Through the Bible Day by Day
When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
THE BETRAYER’S REMORSE AND SUICIDE
It was the very early morning when Jesus was led off to Pilate, for he was on the cross by nine. Judas apparently watched the scene from afar. It may be that he was stricken with horror, when our Lord did not exert His mighty power in self-deliverance. The only expedient that occurred to the traitor as practicable was to attest the Lord’s innocence. What a tribute that was to the absolute purity and beauty of the life which he had known for so long in the closest intimacy! If there had been a flaw, he would have caught at it as justifying his deed; but there was none. See Heb_7:26-27.
The money burnt his hands and rang on the marble floor. Who can estimate the despair, the horror, the blackness of darkness that drove him to a suicide’s fate? See Act_1:15, etc. Note how punctilious these false priests were, Mat_27:6. It is certain that even after this, if he had repented, he would have been forgiven. But despair had seized him. He went to his own place! Each of us is making a place for himself and is going to it.
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
BARABBAS OR CHRIST?
The vacillation of Pilate made him a criminal. Weakness becomes sin. At first he evidently meant to release Jesus, but instead of saying so outright, he strove to bring about His release by indirect means and without committing himself.
First, he sent Him to Herod, Luk_23:17, thinking that a Jew would view favorably the position of a fellow-Jew. Then he sought to touch the springs of pity by the anguish of scourging. Finally, he gave the people the choice between Barabbas and Christ, feeling sure that they must choose the liberation of a lover of men rather than that of an outlaw.
None of these expedients succeeded, and he drifted into the very act which his conscience had condemned from the first. He is a specimen of those weak men who want the right thing to be done, but will not adventure their own interests to get it done. There is no chance of such men coming out right. The one hope for us all is to declare ourselves for the right and true, at once and from the start.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
THE STAIN WATER COULD NOT WASH AWAY
No judge ought to have asked the crowd what he should do. But every man has to do with Christ. He is ever standing before the bar of conscience, and each of us must accept or condemn, do homage or crucify. If we do not pronounce for Him, we pronounce against Him; and there is a moment when our verdict becomes irrevocable. “What I have written, I have written.” We are all writing our legend, and affixing it to the Cross for the universe to read, and a day comes when it is irreversible.
We may wash our hands after the deed of treachery is done, but water will not avail for Pilate, for Lady Macbeth, or for us. We need the blood of Christ, ere we can be cleansed from all sin, 1Jn_5:6.
The King of men must wear a crown of the thorns with which sin is so closely identified. See Gen_3:18. Only thus can the crown of universal empire be won! The robe of mockery must precede His Ascension vesture. The reed is appropriate, for it is through such that he wins and rules. See Isa_42:3; Isa_57:15.
And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
“WHERE THEY CRUCIFIED HIM”
He will not drink what would dull His keen sense of the momentous issues of the Cross. Those taunts were true. None who save themselves can save others. The cry of forsakenness, the midday midnight, the yielded spirit, the rent veil, the opened tombs, the sympathy of nature-all these proved that this was no common death, and were in keeping with everything that Scripture had foretold, 1Pe_1:11.
Our Lord was wrapped in midnight, that He might be our “bright and morning star.” He became obedient to death, that He might give eternal life. His heel was sorely wounded, that He might break the head of him that had the power of death, and might wear forever at His girdle the keys of death and Hades. Make His soul an offering for thy sin. Hide in the cleft which the soldier’s spear opened in His side. He has made peace by the blood of His Cross; we have but to accept and be at rest.
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
THE BROKEN HEART AND THE RENT VEIL
With hushed hearts we stand in the presence of “that sight.” It is the tragedy of time; the one supreme act of self-surrender; the unique unapproachable sacrifice and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. It is here that myriads of sin-sick, terror-stricken souls, in every century, have found refuge. It is here that martyrs have been made strong to endure. It is here that Jacob’s ladder rested, in the lower places of the earth, for He that ascended is the same also that first “descended into the lower parts of the earth.” He became “obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. Wherefore….” See Php_2:8.
The centurion had seen other crucified ones die, but never one like this. He recognized the superhuman elements of the scene. But for us, the emotions of this hour are not those of wonder, but of loving gratitude and faith. He “loved me” He “gave Himself up for me,” Gal_2:20.
When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple:
THE CLOSED AND GUARDED TOMB
Fear not to entrust yourself to God in death. If you yield up your spirit and commend it to the Father’s hands, He will provide for it and for your body also. He has His Josephs everywhere. He will provide loving hands for the body, which was the shrine and casket of the precious jewel that He bought at so great a cost. Precious in His sight is the death of His saints, Psa_116:15.
The kings and princes of this world set themselves to guard the sepulcher of the Son of God by sealing-wax and sentries. They might as well have endeavored to restrain the bursting life of spring. Said the King of Terrors to Captain Corruption, “Take care to keep this Man’s body fast.” But what did this avail, when it had been ordained that he should not stay in Hades, nor even see corruption? Whatever your foes may do against you will not avail, if only you wait patiently for God. See Psa_40:1-17.