Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

present, except for some urgent reason, would be a still more extraordinary circumstance.

Again, there was at this time a quarrel in existence between Herod and Pilate 9; the cause of which consequently must have been some ground of offence, on one side or on both sides. But it would not be easy to conceive what offence Herod could have given to Pilate, at least in his official capacity; for an offence to Pilate, in that capacity, would also have been an offence to the emperor. It is very possible on the other hand, that Pilate might have given offence to Herod. The mere circumstance that the one was the tetrarch of Galilee, and the other the representative of the majesty of Cæsar, without any reference to the personal character of the parties, might suffice to account for that.

Again, the quarrel in question was made up this day, and in consequence of something which passed this day; whence we may infer that it was a quarrel of no long standing: the parties, between whom it existed, had probably never met since it had taken place, until they came together on this occasion in Jerusalem. If it was so speedily made up now when they did meet, had they met before this time, we may suppose it would have been made up sooner.

Again, it is impossible to peruse the account of St. Luke, xxiii. 6-12, and not to come to the conclusion that the moving cause to the reconciliation was the mission of Jesus to Herod by Pilate. Now this mission is expressly attributed to the discovery that Jesus. belonged to the jurisdiction of Herod. The mission, therefore, was a compliment paid to the jurisdiction of Herod; it was as much as to declare that, without the consent of Herod, Pilate would not interfere in

[blocks in formation]

the disposal of a person, whose proper master Herod might appear to be. And Herod understood it accordingly; for by first sitting in judgment on our Lord himself, and then sending him back to Pilate, he both asserted his authority over him, and resigned it voluntarily to Pilate. But if the cause of the final reconciliation was this deference to the rights of Herod, it becomes an argument that the cause of the misunderstanding previously was some injury done to those rights; which could not be repaired except by a public acknowledgment like this. The reputation of Jesus would necessarily render it an important question to whose jurisdiction in particular he ought to be considered amenable; and in sending him upon this occasion to Herod, Pilate was not only flattering the pride of that prince, but ministering also to the gratification of a wish to see Jesus, which he had long before conceived.

Again, it may be inferred from Luke xiii. 31–35, that our Lord could not be far from Jerusalem-that is, that his circuit was fast drawing to its close-when he heard of this misfortune of the Galileans: and by the time of his arrival at Bethany, six days before the Passover, numbers of the Jews were already assembled at Jerusalem r. These are described as Jews from the country; and the purpose for which they went up, so much before the time, was to purify themselves against the feast. There can be no question that considerations of this kind-such as the close of the vow of separation; the purification of women after childbirth, whom their husbands would naturally accompany; besides various accidental pollutions, dependent upon circumstances would bring up numbers to Jerusalem, some a greater, others a less time, before the feast, in

r John xi. 55.

every years. Οὔτε γὰρ λεπροῖς, says Josephus, οὔτε γονοῤῥοίοις, οὔτε γυναιξὶν ἐπεμμήνοις, οὔτε τοῖς ἄλλως μεμιασμένοις, ἐξῆν τῆσδε τῆς θυσίας μεταλαμβάνειν t. It is not to be supposed that any one, however previously clean, would delay his arrival later than the tenth of Nisan; and there is a parallel case, mentioned accidentally by Josephus, which proves that the resort of worshippers against the Passover, was going forward on and before the eighth u: ἀθροιζομένου τοῦ λαοῦ πρὸς τὴν τῶν ̓Αζύμων ἑορτήν· ὀγδόη δ ̓ ἦν Ξανθικοῦ μηνός.

Laying these several particulars together, I think we may come to the following inferences partly with an absolute certainty, and partly with an high degree of probability: first, that a contest had taken place in Jerusalem, arising out of a disturbance of the public peace, between the Jews and the Roman soldiers, attended by blood-shed on both sides, the scene of which was partially the temple; secondly, that this was the sedition of Barabbas, for which he was still in prison, when Jesus was brought before Pilate; thirdly, that some of the Galileans, the native subjects of Herod, while engaged in the act of sacrificing, had been innocently sufferers from it; fourthly, that this violence done to them was the cause of the enmity existing between Herod and Pilate, and the reason why the former was present in Jerusalem, at the time of the last Passover, with an armed force, for his own protection, or for that of his subjects; fifthly, that all this was of recent occurrence, between the time denoted by John xi. 54 and xii. 1: after the commencement of our Lord's final circuit, and not long before its close.

It is some confirmation of the connection between this incident, thus alluded to, Luke xiii. 1, and what

s Vide 2 Chron. xxix. xxx.

t Bell. Jud. vi. ix. 3.

u Bell. vi. v. 3.

subsequently passed at our Lord's examination, xxiii. 6-12, that the former does serve to clear up the latter, and that both are related by St. Luke, and by him alone. There is no proof, it is true, in Josephus of any disturbance in Jerusalem, about this time: but neither is there any account, given by him, of the administration of Pilate generally, except after the close of our Lord's personal history, and so far as regards one or two particulars-his introduction of the ensigns into the city; his sequestration of the corban; and his violence towards the Samaritans: the last of which led to his removal from office, and the two former, or at least the latter of them, as I apprehend, had not yet taken place. Nor is any greater objection deducible from the silence of Josephus as to this fact in particular, than from his silence with respect to Christianity in general. If the fact in question was connected with the sedition of Barabbas, then the history of Barabbas was too intimately connected also with the personal history of Jesus Christ, to be noticed distinctly by an author who has preserved so deep, and undoubtedly so deliberate a secresy, with respect to this last.

It seems to have been ordained by Providence, and with an evident fitness and expediency, that the whole of our Lord's public ministry until this time should be transacted with no such events as these: nor can I help thinking that the occurrence of something of the kind, at last, was more permissive than accidental; and as providential as any thing before it. For had not this been the case, no such notorious criminal as Barabbas could have been in confinement at the time of the trial of our Lord; and if Barabbas had not then been in prison, whom could the Jews have demanded to be released instead of the Christ? and without this pre

ference of Barabbas to the Christ, what room could there have been for that last and most convincing testimony to the national impenitence and guilt, which was given by their deliberate preference of a robber and an outlaw, a ringleader of sedition, with hands imbrued in blood; not merely to a person whose innocence was undoubted, and the purity of whose character was unimpeachable, but to their own Messiah, the Prince of peace, and Saviour of mankind?

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »