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Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, as he also was in Jerusalem at that time-having come from Tiberias, as Pilate himself from Cæsarea.
When Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he had been desirous to see Him for a long time, because he had heard many things of Him, and because he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. And so he questioned Him with many words; but He answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes had made their appearance-here also ;and they vehemently accused Him. On the other hand, Herod with his men of war treated Him contemptuously, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a bright white robe, and sent Him again to Pilate. That same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they had been at enmity between themselves.
Pilate saw himself thus under the necessity again to take in hand the matter judicially. For this end, he caused to be called together not only the chief priests and the scribes, but also the people; because he wished to give to the transaction a new direction, in order to which the people had to be present. He made, namely, to those assembled together a proposal, which should in part satisfy the desire for vengeance on the part of the Jewish rulers, and in part, also, his own sense of right. 'Ye have brought,' he said, 'this man to me, as one that perverteth the people. And, behold, I have examined him before. you, and I have found nothing in this man of the offence whereof ye accuse him: no, nor yet Herod: I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing lies to his charge, which is worthy of death. I will therefore chastise him, and release him.' For he was under the necessity of releasing one unto them at the feast. But they all cried out with one voice, 'Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas.' That was a man who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, had been cast into prison. Then Pilate called to them a second time, desiring to release Jesus. But they cried out, saying, 'Crucify, crucify him! And he said unto them the third time, 'What evil, then, hath this man done? I have found no cause of death in him. I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.' But they assailed him with loud cries, and demanded that He should be crucified; and their cry, and that of the chief priests,
prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that their desire should be fulfilled. And thus he released him that for sedition and murder had been cast into prison, whom they desired; but Jesus he delivered over to their will.
The great guilt of the Jews appears here in the clearest light. They not only accuse Jesus of desiring to be a king, but also of seeking to prevent the payment of tribute to the Emperor; and yet Pilate himself is able to interpret the declaration of Christ, that he was the King of the Jews, as blameless. Pilate is better able to enter into the theocratic idea of the Messiah than they. But not only does the heathen judge, the unjust Roman governor, a character like Pilate, decide that Jesus is innocent; but also the murderer of John, the adulterous Idumean Herod, gives forth the same opinion, although Jesus treated him as an incompetent and unworthy judge; and although he, on the other hand, shows his displeasure against Jesus, by a contemptuous treatment and mockery of His son. The sentences of both these judges have all the more significance, as the Jews accused the Lord of being a seditious person, who had commenced His treasonable practices first in Galilee, and then had extended them to the metropolis of Judea itself, and as both these rulers, being despotic guardians of the territories now mentioned, had a watchful eye for such transgressions. But although both judges declare the accused to be innocent, the Jews condemn Him notwithstanding; and this, too, with the most aggravating accompaniments. When Pilate, namely, in the third judicial act, declares that he will cause Jesus to be scourged, and then release Him, in order to conform to the custom of the Passover feast, they beg for the release of Barabbas, a man imprisoned for murder and sedition, in order to shut this door of escape against Jesus. And notwithstanding Pilate pronounces the sentence a first, second, and third time, that Jesus was innocent, that He ought to be released, they persist in their request with ever increasing urgency. On the first occasion it is, Away with him-put him out of the way; on the second, Crucify, crucify him; and on the third occasion, their request becomes a long continued and increasingly tumultuous cry, that Jesus should be crucified. The special
1 In which, however, it must be remarked, that the report is here incomplete.
circumstance must also be thrown into the balance, that the death of the cross was a Roman, not a Jewish mode of punishment. A peculiarly appalling contrast lies, moreover, in the circumstance, that Pilate himself, in pronouncing the third sentence, demands of them once more to bring proofs of the guilt of Jesus; whilst they can only answer with a more impetuous cry-a cry in which also the voices of the chief priests mingle.1
Whilst Luke alone informs us of the examination of Jesus. by Herod, who mocked Him, putting on Him a white robe (without doubt, as a symbol of His supposed aiming at the theocratic royal dignity), and sending Him back again in it, he passes by the offence of the Roman soldiers, who put on Him a purple robe in derision. By the omission of this act of the soldiers, the fact comes out more conspicuously, that it was at bottom the Jews who led away the Lord for crucifixion, Pilate having delivered Him over to their will. The soldiers, who in Matthew and Mark appear on the foreground as the conductors of Jesus, here stand on the background, as subordinate instruments in the hands of others.2
And as they led Him away-for crucifixion—they laid hold upon one Simon of Cyrene, coming from the field, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed Him a great company of the people, and among them also a multitude of women, who lamented and bewailed Him. But Jesus turned Himself round unto them, and said, 'Daugh
1 According to Von Baur, the Gospel of John seeks to represent Pilate as guiltless, in opposition to the synoptists. It cannot, indeed, escape a practised Christian eye, that Pilate, according to the description of all four Evangelists, appears as guilty; but if one will speak of differences in this respect, he may be regarded as comparatively less culpable in the representation given by Luke, unless one is disposed to find the strongest exculpation in the washing of the hands, as recorded by Matthew. The mitigation of the guilt of Pilate, which lies in the delineation of Luke, has been remarked by the Saxon Anonyme; but is represented by him in a very exaggerated form (pp. 188 ff.). He maintains that, according to Luke's account, Pilate was constrained, in the proper sense of the term, to yield to the power of the Jews. In this case, however, there could be no question of any new judgment pronounced by Pilate.
2 It is nevertheless quite false, when the Saxon Anonyme (192) represents the death of Christ, according to Luke, exactly like that of Stephen, as a mere tumultuary act of the Jews, in which the Romans took no share : see vers. 24, 33, 34, and 35, 36, 38, 47.
ters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days come, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in the green tree, what shall befall the dry?'
Thus, the leading away of Jesus to the cross possesses here a peculiar character. Pious women follow behind, weeping, as the Lord proceeds to the cross. But He replies to the expression of their human compassion towards Him with a manifestation of His divine compassion towards them. He tells them, with the deepest sympathy, how much He bemoans the terrible doom which awaits the mothers in Israel and their children,-a doom which must fall heaviest on the poor mothers. Once more we hear the announcement, that the direst judgments are suspended over the city. How often had He, with tender commiseration, declared the destruction of the devoted city! And His voice has still in it the purest tone of pity, whilst the Jews, without mercy, are already on their way conducting Him to the cross.
At the same time, two others also, malefactors, were led away with Him to be executed. And when they were come to the place, which is called a Skull (xpávíov), there they crucified Him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. But Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.' And they parted His garments, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding: and the rulers also with them derided Him, and said, 'He saved others; let him save himself, if he be the Christ, the chosen of God.' The soldiers also mocked Him, came to Him, and brought Him vinegar, saying, 'If thou be the king of the Jews, save thyself.' There was also— in the same spirit—a superscription over Him, written in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, This is the King of the Jews. And one of the malefactors who hung there reviled Him, and said, 'If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.' But the other answering, rebuked him, and said, 'And thou also fearest not God, who art yet in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.' Then said he to Jesus, 'Lord, re1 Vid. chap. xiii. 34, xix. 27, 41 et seq., xxi. 23 et seq.
member me when Thou comest in thy kingdom.' And Jesus said unto him, 'Verily I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise."1 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil in the temple was rent in the midst. And Jesus cried with a loud voice, 'Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit!' And with these words He gave up the ghost.
The heathen soldiers appear also here as copartners in the guilt of the crucifixion of Christ. The Jews mock; the rulers of the Jews themselves mock; finally, the heathen soldiers also mock. They do it in their own rude manner, whilst offering the vinegar to the Lord. Pilate likewise shared in the mockery, by the terms of the superscription.
Alongside of these statements, it is peculiar to the narrative of Luke, that one of the malefactors is converted to Christ, and finds grace.
So likewise are three of the seven last words: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!-Verily I say unto thee, This day thou shalt be with Me in paradise!-Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit! Thus, the word of universal love to man, in its intercession for the blind, sinful world; the word of grace, in its majesty, reconciling the malefactor in the hour of death; and the prayer of perfected childlike peace.2
When the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, and said, 'Certainly this was a righteous man.' And all the people, who had come together to that sight, when they beheld the things which had taken place-how the sun was darkened, and the heavens became black over the dying Christ-smote on their breasts, and returned home.
This last circumstance, which Luke alone records, was, so to speak, the first gentle token of the future conversion of Israel, in which the whole people-according to Paul, Rom. xi.—shall smite on the breast. It is remarkable that here already the
1 Regarding the meaning of paradise, comp. 2 Cor. xii. 2-4; Rev. ii. 7. 2 According to the Saxon Anonyme, s. 195, Jesus called out, by Matthew's account, twice the comfortless word, My God, My God, etc.' He proves this from the λiv zpážas, ver. 50. Gfrörer also can understand the cry of Christ in Matthew's narrative only as comfortless (pp. 350 ff.). Woe be to us, he exclaims, if it were so in our case!