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47. Pilate’s Last Judgment over Jesus Christ.

When they again brought the Lord Jesus Christ to Pilate, a large crowd of people, chiefs, and elders had already gathered there. Pilate then called together the chief priests, rulers, and the people saying to them, "You brought me this Man as One Who was perverting the people; and after examining Him before you, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against Him. I sent Him to Herod, and Herod also found nothing done by Him to deserve death. I will therefore chastise and release Him."

The Jews had the custom at the feast of Passover of releasing to the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. Pilate using this occasion said to the people, "You have the custom that at Passover I should release to you one prisoner. Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?" Pilate was sure that the people would ask for Jesus because he perceived that it was out of envy and malice that the chief priests had delivered Him up.

While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man, for I have suffered much over Him today in a dream."

In the meantime, the chief priests and the elders stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release to them Barabbas. Barabbas was a notorious criminal, who had been thrown into prison with his companions for an insurrection started in the city and for murder.

Then, the people, persuaded by the elders, began to shout, "Release to us Barabbas!"

Pilate desiring to release Jesus addressed them once more, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you: Barabbas or Jesus, called Christ?"

They all shouted, "Not Him, but Barabbas!"

Then, Pilate asked them, "Then, what shall I do with Jesus, Who is called Christ?"

They shouted, "Let Him be crucified!"

Pilate again said to them, "Why, what evil has He done? I have found no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise Him and release Him."

But they shouted all the more, "Crucify Him! Let Him be crucified!"

Then, Pilate, thinking he could arouse compassion from the people for Christ, ordered the soldiers to scourge Him. The soldiers led Jesus Christ to the courtyard, stripped Him, and cruelly beat Him. Then, they arrayed Him in a purple robe (a short purple robe without sleeves and fastened on the right shoulder), placed a plaited crown of thorns on His head, and put in His right hand a reed instead of the royal scepter. They began to mock Him. They knelt down in homage before Him and said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" They spat on Him and, taking the reed, struck Him on His head and face.

After this Pilate led Him to the Jews and said, "Behold, I bring Him out to you that you may know that I find no crime in Him." So Jesus Christ came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them "Here is the Man!" With these words, Pilate meant to say, "Look at how He is tortured and disgraced," thinking that the Jews would take pity on Him. But not such were the enemies of Christ. When the chief priests and officers saw Jesus Christ, they cried out, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"

Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no crime in Him."

The Jews answered him, "We have a law; and by that law, He ought to die because He has made Himself the Son of God."

When Pilate heard these words, he was even more frightened. He entered the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?"

But the Saviour gave him no answer.

Pilate therefore said to Him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release You and power to crucify You?"

Then, Jesus Christ answered, "You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above; therefore, he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." After this Pilate more vigorously sought to release Jesus Christ.

But the Jews cried out, "If you release this Man, you are not Caesar’s friend; everyone who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar." When Pilate heard these words, he decided it was better to condemn an innocent man to death than to risk the danger of royal disgrace before the Emperor.

Then, Pilate brought Jesus Christ out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called the Pavement and said to the Jews, "Here is your King!"

But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!"

Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Pilate seeing that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves" (let the blame fall on you).

All the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" Thus the Jews invoked upon themselves and their descendants responsibility for the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, unless they repent. Then, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and delivered Jesus Christ to them to be crucified.

Note: See the Gospels of Matthew, 27:15-26; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-40 and 19:1-16.

The Road to Golgotha.

Since Jesus Christ was condemned to be crucified, He was handed over to the soldiers. Again, they beat, insulted, and mocked Him. After they had made fun of Him, they took off the purple robe and dressed Him in His own clothing. The condemned person had to carry his own cross to the place of crucifixion; thus, the soldiers laid the cross on the shoulders of the Saviour and led Him to the place intended for crucifixion. The place was a hill, which was called Golgotha or the place of the skull. Golgotha was situated west of Jerusalem not far from the city gate called the Judgment Gate.

A great multitude of people followed Him. The road was hilly. Exhausted by beating and lashing, worn out by spiritual suffering, Jesus Christ could hardly walk and several times fell from the weight of the cross. When they went out of the city gate where the road began to go uphill, Jesus Christ was unable to continue carrying the cross. The soldiers came upon a man who was compassionately watching Christ. It was Simon, a Cyrenian, returning from work in the country. The soldiers seized him and compelled him to carry the cross of Christ.

Among the people who followed Christ were many women who wept and lamented for Him. Jesus Christ turning to them said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the women who never had children.’ Then, they will begin to say to the mountains: fall on us, — and to the hills: cover us."

Thus, the Lord predicted the terrifying misfortune, which would befall Jerusalem and the Jewish people soon after His earthly life.

Note: See the Gospel of Matthew 27:27-32; Mark 15:16-21; Luke 23:26-32; John 19:16-17.

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