May 16, 2021
Deeply interesting is this interview between the Nazarene and the Roman,
the Jewish Prisoner and the Roman judge; the one then brought forth as a
malefactor and now seated on the throne of the world, the other then
exalted on the seat of power and now sunk to the depth of universal pity if
not of universal scorn. “Art thou a King?” asks the latter, in the tone of
lofty superiority. “I am,” replies the former, in the tone of calm and
profound assurance. What, then, was this kingdom of which He spoke?
What was that
the truth” (John 18:37) which He foretold, which He came to this world
and which He laid down His life to establish? It was the sovereignty of God
over all human souls. God’s claim — which is not founded on
prescription, nor upon force, but upon righteousness — is His claim on the
reverence, the affection, the obedience, of those whom He has created,
preserved, enriched, who owe to Him all that He demands of them. With us,
who have revolted from His rule, this means nothing less than the
restoration of our loyalty, and thus our return to His likeness and to His
favor as well as to His sway.
33 “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus,
and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews?” Pilate therefore entered
again into the Praetorium, out of direct hearing of the vociferous crowd, where
Jesus and John himself had remained under supervision of the officers of the court,
and called — summoned Jesus to his side, and said to Him that of which the mob
outside formed an imperfect idea. The account of John throws much light on the
inference which Pilate drew from the reply of Jesus, as given in v. 38 and in Luke
23:4. To the loud accusations and bitter charges of“the chief priests and elders”
(Matthew 27:11-12; Mark 15:3-4) brought in the presence of Pilate, Christ answered
nothing. His solemn and accusing silence caused the governor to marvel greatly (see
both Matthew 27:14 and Mark 15:5). He marveled not only at the
silence of the Lord, but at that silence after he, Pilate, had received from
Him so explicit a statement as to the nature of His own kingdom. An
explanation of the motive of Pilate, and of his entire manner upon this
occasion, is to be found in the private interview between our Lord and the
Roman governor within the Praetorium. It is unnecessary (with many) to
see in Pilate an “almost persuaded” believer in the claims of Jesus, who yet
was warring with his better judgment, and apostatizing from a nascent
faith. He appears rather as the Roman man of the world, who has never
learned to rule his policy by any notions of righteousness and truth, and is
utterly unable to appreciate the spiritual claims of this Nazarene; yet he was
shrewd enough to see that, so far as Roman authority was concerned, this
Prisoner was utterly harmless. His question was, Art thou the King of the
Jews? Of course, he expected at first a negative reply. Should this abused
and rejected, this bound and bleeding Sufferer, with no apparent followers
around Him, actually betrayed by one of His intimate friends, deserted by
the rest, and hounded to death by the fierce cries of Pharisee and
Sadducee, chief priest and elder, answer in the affirmative, it might easily
suggest itself to Pilate that He must be under some futile hallucination. It
has been said that the question might have been answered right off in the
affirmative or in the negative, according as the term “King of the Jews”
was understood. If what Pilate meant was a popular titular leader,
imperator of Jewish levies, one prepared for the career of Judas of Galilee,
or Herod the Idumaean, or for that of Barchochab in after times, —
nothing could seem to be less likely or more patently repudiated by the
facts; moreover, from our Lord Himself, who had always refused a quasi-royal
dignity (ch.6:15), it would have required an emphatic negative.
Pilate knew no other way of interpreting the phrase. If the term meant the
King of all kings and Lord of lords, the Ruler of hearts, who would draw
all men to Him, and cast out and vanquish the prince of this world, then the
“crown” was His, and He could not deny it; but before this assertion was
made in the hearing of the multitude, our Lord would draw from Pilate the
sense in which he used the words. He does not say to him, Σὺ λέγεις–
Su legeis - Thou sayest —a reply given verbatim by all the synoptists, and
referring to a second demand made in the presence of the multitude — but
He put a counter-question.
34 Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others
tell it thee of me?” Sayest thou this thing, askest thou this question, from
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was rising,
he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of
the blood of this just person. You see to it." (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 22-23,
It was very early in the morning when the rulers of the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate.
They would not go into Pilate's hall because Pilate was not of their nation, and Pilate
came out to them, and asked them, "What charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered, "If he were not an evildoer, we would not have brought him to you."
Pilate did not wish to be troubled, and he said, "Take him away, and judge him by
your own law!" The Jews said to Pilate, "We are not allowed to put any man to
death, and we have brought him to you. We have found this man teaching evil,
and telling men not to pay taxes to the Emperor Caesar, and saying that He Himself
is Christ, a king." Then Pilate went into his courtroom, and sent for Jesus; and when
he looked at Jesus, he said, "Are you the King of the Jews? Your own people have
brought you to me. What have you done?"
Jesus said to him, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world, then
those who serve me would fight to save me from my enemies. But now my kingdom
is not here."
Pilate said, "Are you a king, then?" Jesus answered him, "You have spoken it.
I am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, that I might
speak the truth of God to
"Truth", said Pilate, "What is truth?" Then, without waiting for an answer,
Pilate went out to the rulers and the crowd, and said, "I find no evil in this man."
Pilate thought that Jesus was a harmless man, and he could see no reason why the
rulers and the people should be so bitter against him. But they cried out all the more,
saying, "He stirs up the
people everywhere, from
Pilate heard the word "
They told him that he had; and then Pilate said, "
the rule of Herod. He has come up
JESUS SENT TO HEROD
So from Pilate's courtroom, Jesus was sent, still bound, to Herod's palace. This was
the Herod who had put John the Baptist in prison, and had given his head to a dancing
girl. Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard many things about him; and he
hoped to see him do some wonderful thing. But Jesus would not work wonders as a
show, and when Herod asked him many questions, Jesus would not speak a word.
Herod would not judge Jesus, for he knew that Jesus had done nothing wrong; so
he and his soldiers mocked Jesus, and dressed him in a gay robe, as though he were
a make-believe king, and sent him back to Pilate.
JESUS BEFORE PILATE A SECOND TIME
Pilate, much against his will, was compelled to decide either for Jesus or against him.
And just as Jesus was standing bound before him a message came to Pilate from his
wife, saying, "Do nothing against that good man; for in this night I have suffered many
things in a dream on account of him."
Pilate said to the Jews, "You have brought this man to me as one who is leading
the people to evil; and I have seen that there is no evil in him, nor has Herod. I will
order that he be beaten with rods, and then set free. For you know that it is the custom
to set a prisoner free at the time of the feast." They set some prisoner free, as a sign of
the joy at the feast. And at that time there was in the prison a man named Barabbas,
who was a robber and a murderer. Pilate said to the people, "Shall I set free Jesus,
who is called the King of the Jews?"
But the rulers went among the people and urged them to ask for Barabbas to be
set free. And the crowd cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Then Pilate said,
"What, then, shall I do with Jesus?" And they all cried out, "Crucify him! Let him
die on the cross!"
Pilate wished greatly to spare the life of Jesus. To show how he felt, he sent for water,
and he washed his hands before all the people, saying, "My hands are clean from the
blood of this good man!' And they cried out, "Let his blood be on us, and on our
children after us! Crucify him! Send him to the cross!"
Then Pilate, to please the people, gave them what they asked. He set free Barabbas,
the man of their choice, though he was a robber and a murderer; but before giving
way to the cry that he should send Jesus to the cross, he tried once more to save his
life. He caused Jesus to be beaten until the blood came upon him, hoping that this
might satisfy the people. As Jesus was spoken of as a king, the soldiers who beat
Jesus made a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple
robe, such as was worn by kings, and bowing down before him they called out to him,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
Then, hoping to awaken some pity for Jesus, Pilate brought him out to the people,
with the crown of thorns and the purple robe upon him, and Pilate said, "Look on
this man!" But again the cry arose, "Crucify him! Send him to the cross!" And at
last Pilate yielded to the voice of the people. He sat down on the judgment seat, and
gave command that Jesus, whom he knew to be a good man, one who had done
nothing evil, should be put to death upon the cross.
Spiritual Blindness (ch. 4:18)
(this was scheduled for Jan. 24, 2021)
“The recovering of sight to the blind.” We think of:
· THE BADNESS OF BLINDNESS, and its degrees. “It must be very
bad to be blind,” we say; probably we but faintly realize what it means.
Ø It is bad to be physically blind — to look on no scenery, to read no
book, to behold no countenance, to recognize no love in a human face,
to grope our way in the thick darkness.
Ø It is worse to be mentally blind — to see, and not to see; to open
the eyes on the beauty and wonder and glory of the universe and to
recognize nothing beautiful, wonderful, glorious, there; to be as lonely
in a library as in a cell! (One of the prayers that Ms. Augusta prays
is her thanksgiving to God for “waking in the morning and to have
a portion of health and to be in her right mind!” - CY – 2012)
o It is worse still to be morally blind — blind of soul, so that a man can
see nothing degraded in drunkenness, nothing shameful in vice, nothing
revolting in obscenity and profanity, nothing repelling in selfishness; so
that a man can see nothing noble in generosity, nothing beautiful in
beneficence, nothing regal in righteousness and duty, nothing sacred
in human love.
Ø It is worst of all to be SPIRITUALLY BLIND — worst, because that is
the root and source of all the others; blindness of spirit, A DARKNESS
in which the soul fails to see:
o the Highest of all beings,
o the loftiest of all truths,
o the greatest of all facts;
a darkness in which the soul fails to recognize the essential truth that
in God we “live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28), and
that to Him we are responsible for all we are and have; in which it is
blind to our sorrowful state of guilt and condemnation in the sight of
God. It is spiritual insensibility that is the most deplorable — the
fact that men don’t know that they don’t see; that they suppose
themselves to know everything when they know nothing; that they
are not aware what a world of truth and blessedness is around
them AND IS ACESSIBLE UNTO THEM! If they would but
pay attention, THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL REVEAL THIS
· THE WORST FEATURE OF SPIRITUAL PRIVATION. That which
is the best feature in physical is the worst in spiritual blindness. Under the
merciful principle of accommodation, the blind became not only
submissive, but contented and even cheerful in the darkness in which they
dwell. They are able not only to speak of it, but to feel about it that it is
“the shadow of God’s wing.” That is a very happy thing; but that is the
very worst feature of spiritual blindness. It is spiritual insensibility that is
the most deplorable — the fact that men don’t know that they don’t see;
that they suppose themselves to know everything when they know nothing;
that they are not aware what a world of truth and blessedness is around
them and is accessible to them. Who shall reveal this to them?
· CHRIST THE GREAT RESTORER OF SPIRITUAL VISION. And how
does He make us see that to which, but for Him, we should have remained
Ø By making quite plain and certain that which would have remained
shadowy and uncertain. Many truths of vital importance men would, in
His absence, have speculated upon and discussed, but they would not
have known them. Coming to us from God, the great Teacher has
turned these uncertainties into living and sustaining truth. He tells
us authoritatively and decisively that God is the one Divine Spirit,
the righteous Ruler of all, the Father of souls:
o condemning them in their sin,
o pitying them in their estrangement,
o inviting them to return;
that God has determined that when we die we shall live again, shall
come forth to a resurrection of condemnation or of life.
Ø By bringing the truth close home to the eye of the soul. When our Lord
lived on earth He did this Himself in His own Person; e.g. in the cases
of the woman of
the truth of the kingdom home to the heart and the conscience. Those
lips are closed to us now; Christ speaks not now as He spoke then. But
His Spirit is with us still, speaking through His Word and through His
faithful servants, and through his providence.
Ø By more fully enlightening the minds of those who go in faith to seek
and to serve Him. Unto all seeking and trusting souls He manifests His
truth in ever-enlarging fullness; them He leads “into all the truth”
(John 16:13) they need to know; and to them it becomes gloriously
true that the Spirit of the Lord has anointed Him, their Savior, for
“the recovering of sight to the blind.”