While Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: "Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered terribly in a dream today because of Him."
I. PILATE'S READING OF THE CHARACTER AND MOTIVES OF THE PRIEST PARTY. Pilate "was a typical Roman, not of the antique, simple stamp, but of the imperial period; a man not without some remains of the ancient Roman justice in his soul, yet pleasure loving, imperious, and corrupt. He hated the Jews whom he ruled, and, in times of irritation, freely shed their blood. They returned his hatred with cordiality, and accused him of every crime - maladministration, cruelty, and robbery." "Pilate understood their pretended zeal for the Roman authority." He may not have known the precise occasion for their strong feeling against Jesus; but he saw plainly that it was a case of malice and revenge, and they were prepared to humiliate themselves utterly in carrying out their evil purpose. But, if Pilate knew them so well, we must judge his guilt in yielding to them by the light of his knowledge.
II. PILATE'S READING OF THE CHARACTER AND MOTIVES OF JESUS. He seems to have known something of Jesus. The story of the triumphal entry had been duly reported to him; and he formed his opinion when he found that Jesus took no material advantage of that time of excitement. He settled it - Jesus was a harmless enthusiast, of no account politically. "He questioned Jesus in regard to the accusations brought against him, asking especially if he pretended to be a King." He may have laughed cynically at our Lord's answer, but he knew well that nothing of the demagogue lurked behind that calm and peaceful face. Again and again he declared him innocent - he found no fault in him. Pilate read him aright, but condemned himself in the reading. Our guilt is always measured by our knowledge. - R.T.
His wife sent unto him saying, Have thou nothing to de with that just man.I. The testimony of women to Christ.
II. The testimony of dreams to Christ.
III. The testimony of suffering to Christ — "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things," etc. The wife failed; but it was well to have tried.
(G. T. Coster.)I. Let us observe her dream as a sign that various obstacles are placed in the way of completing sin.
II. Let us observe the dream as a sign that continuance in sin depends upon injustice done to Jesus Christ.
(D. G. Watt, M. A.)
(D. G. Watt, M. A.)
(G. T. Coster.)
I. THE GREAT PRINCIPLE OF CONSCIENCE WAS NOT DORMANT IN PILATE, BUT ON THE CONTRARY ACTED WITH FAITHFULNESS AND VIGOUR. Whatever the sensuality and tyranny of this Roman he had not succeeded in silencing conscience. The enormity of his sin is also enhanced by the warning he received through his wife.
II. WE CONSIDER GOD AS ACTING UPON PILATE TO DETER HIM FROM COMMITTING A GREAT CRIME, AND THEREFORE TO LEAVE HIM WITHOUT EXCUSE IN THE COMMISSION. God has nothing to do with causing the wicked actions he overrules. No man can take refuge in God's foreknowledge of his sins, as having made them unavoidable. It left Pilate as free as if there had been no foreknowledge.
III. How the method used by God was EMINENTLY FITTED TO PREVAIL WITH PILATE, and how it cut off all excuse when he gave up Jesus to the multitude. It may seem singular that the vision was to Pilate's wife, and net to Pilate himself. Would not the admonition have been more likely to prevail if directly conveyed to him? But to please his wife may have been a motive in addition to obedience to the vision. God took this course because the Roman governor was probably most accessible through his affections. It is far from an unfrequent thing that God causes His warnings to be conveyed through the channel of the affections. One member of the family is saved in order to impress another. If this does not succeed, there remains no more likely method. Let not men think it would be better if they were acted upon directly by the gospel.
IV. How greatly it increased the criminality of Pilate THAT THE MESSAGE OF HIS WIFE REACHED HIM AT THE VERY MOMENT OF HIS TAKING HIS PLACE ON THE JUDGMENT SEAT. It was precisely when his convictions were urging him to release Christ, that there came to him a testimony to His innocence. When men are tempted God sends seasonable aids and disposes events for their strength and victory. The whole judicature of conscience is constructed on the principle of counsel being given at the precise moment when temptation is urgent. It remonstrates at the moment the bait allures. What a scene will it be when this Roman stands forth to answer for himself at the tribunal of Christ. How changed their condition. Christ will then be in glory and power.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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