And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus…
I. IT ELICITED THE INNOCENCE OF JESUS. Charges were made that he had excited sedition through the country, had prohibited the Roman tribute, and had claimed royalty. The last only had any show of plausibility in it. Jesus admitted his kingship, but declared it in immortal words to be the sovereignty of truth over the consciences of men. Reading the narratives of the other evangelists, we gain a clear impression of the innocence of Jesus, as it was exhibited to all who looked on, and defied the inventions of malice. Especially is that innocence reflected from the bearing of Pilate. To him our Lord replied when he asked for information; but met the accusations of the' priests with a silence equally significant. And Pilate was struck dumb with conviction. Character is self-sufficiency. It is "centrality; the impossibility of being displaced or overset." Words will not prove innocence; it speaks louder in silence. Passion and unreason illustrate it. We are generally more anxious to avoid misconstruction than to act as we think right. Jesus teaches us to be servants of the truth, and to be indifferent to the constructions of our enemies. God and the angels are the true spectators of our actions; and the judgment of posterity will reflect the judgment of God.
II. IT ELICITED HIS PERFECT LOYALTY. There must come a time when the truths we have professed will demand to be sealed by our action. Christ had taught men to "seek first the kingdom of God;" to postpone everything to duty; to take heed to the light within; to esteem the soul of greater worth than the whole world. His conduct now falls into harmony with his words; and perfect music flows through the world from both. He preferred the fulfillment of duty to the preservation of life.
III. IT ELICITED HUMAN INJUSTICE AND VICE. Socrates told his judges at Athens that it was they who were really on their trial. So it was the Sanhedrim, and also Pilate, who were on this occasion tried and condemned. The ages have since been reverberating their damnation. Expediency and worldly favor were in one scale; right, innocence, truth, in the other. The former dipped. Worldly authority was opposed to spiritual majesty; the former struck a blow at the latter, which recoiled with Divine effect. The condemnation of Christ was an outrage upon the conscience of the world, both Jewish and pagan. Pilate's illustrious countryman, Cicero, had taught with enthusiasm that the useful and the right form a unity; that the useful can never be put before the right without defeating the social good ('De Officiis,' 3.). An action can never be useful unless it is first right. Here was a great reversal of that order. That Jesus should die is expedient, said the Sanhedrim; but not right, said their conscience. On other grounds, Pilate took the same position; while his wife, like a second conscience, would have restrained him. In similar crises of personal experience, let us remember that to subordinate right to expediency is to condemn the Lord of life afresh.
IV. IT ILLUSTRATES THE METHODS OF PROVIDENCE. When innocence suffers and violence prevails, the foundations of moral order seem to be shaken, and the righteous exclaim, "What shall we do?" The face of Providence seems obscured. But God is One who hideth himself. What we call the evil in nature may be the disguise of his wisdom; and not less does he conceal himself behind the evil of men. Here the greatest evil on their part gave occasion for the greatest good.
V. IT ILLUSTRATES THE ILLUSIVENESS OF APPEARANCES. Jesus is insulted by Roman soldiers; himself the spiritual Emperor of mankind. He is mocked with a semblance of royalty; the mocking expresses an eternal fact. "Ridicule is the test of truth." Beware of mockery and insolence; we may be defying the Spirit of God. Seek below the praise and the blame of men, their applause and their abuse, for the eternal fact. Judge not of Christianity by what men say of it, but by itself. Estimate not its divinity by the worldly honor that attaches to it; but rather by the dishonor of the many, and the loyalty and life of the few. Truth and meekness, truth and spiritual force, - these are mightier than all falsehood and scorn. - J.
Parallel VersesKJV: And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.