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Having failed to establish their first charge, they produce another, accusing him of teaching new opinions, contrary to the generally received notions, and tending to disturb the public tranquillity, of which the Roman governor was the guardian: they hoped, therefore, that on this account he would deem him a criminal worthy of punishment.
6. When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean.
7. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod; who himself was also at Jerusalem at that time.
As this was the time of keeping the passover, Herod, as a Jew, came to Jerusalem, like the rest of his countrymen, to observe the feast. As Pilate was plainly averse to condemn Jesus, he was probably glad of an opportunity of sending him to another judge, who, by passing sentence upon the accused, might save him from the pain of putting to death an innocent person, in compliance with the earnest solicitations of the Jews; or keep him from giving them offence by an acquittal. He might also be desirous of recovering the friendship of Herod, which, it seems, he had lost; perhaps by some interference with his jurisdiction.
8. And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long time, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him.
9. Then he questioned with him in
many words; "asked him many questions;" but he answered him nothing.
Christ, knowing that his miraculous powers were given him as evidences of a divine mission, did not chuse to display them where they would not answer this purpose, and could only serve to gratify the curiosity of a wicked tyrant and his profligate court: for the like reason he did not chuse to answer questions, which were proposed not with a desire of information, but to ensnare or expose him.
10. And the chief priests and Scribes stood, and vehemently accused him.
What charges they brought against him we are not told; but they were probably the same as when he stood at the bar of Pilate; namely, that he assumed kingly power, or made mens' minds uneasy by teaching new doctrines.
11. And Herod, with his men of war, "his soldiers," set him at nought, “treated him contemptuously;" and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, rather," in a white robe;" and sent him again to Pilate.
The Jewish nobles are said to have worn white robes, whereas the Roman wore purple; hence proceeded the different manner in which Jesus was clothed by the soldiers of Herod and of Pilate. The former, in derision of his claims to kingly power, dressed him in white; the latter, in purple. From this circumstance it is evident, though not expressly mentioned in the history, that he was accused of the same offence before Herod as before Pilate, and that that prince thought that his claims merited contempt rather than severe punishment.
12. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together: for before they were at enmity between themselves.
The attention shown by Pilate to Herod, in sending to him a criminal for judgment, who was brought before himself, because he belonged to the jurisdiction of the other, was the means of their reconciliation, and of removing the enmity which before subsisted between them, from whatever cause it proceeded. Pilate now makes an attempt, for the second time, to release Jesus, in which he promised himself more success than before; inasmuch as his own opinion of the innocence of Jesus was confirmed by the conduct of Herod, who had sent him back uncondemned. But no favourable opinion of his judge concerning him will allay the enmity of his persecutors.
13. And Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people,
14. Said unto them, unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me as one that perverteth the people, "rendereth them discontented," and behold I, having examined him, rather, " having examined the witnesses," before you, have found no fault in this man, touching those things whereof ye accuse him:
15. No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you unto him; and lo nothing worthy of death is done unto him, or "by him," that is, by Herod.
The meaning of these words is, that it appears by Herod's behaviour, in the case of this man, that he does not believe him worthy of death.
16. I will therefore chastise him and release him.
He was willing so far to humour his enemies, as to scourge him, although he thought him innocent; but this light punishment would not satisfy the malice of his enemies. The more inclined Pilate appeared to release him, the more importunate they were in their clamours to have him put to death; 'till at length their cries prevailed over the feeble virtue of the governor, and induced him to give his consent to that which in his heart he disapproved. It was on the road to the place of crucifixion that the events next related took place.
Luke xxiii. 17-25. corresponds with Matt. xxvii. 15-18. 20-26. 32.
27. And there followed him a great multitude of people, and of women also, which bewailed and lamented him.
With the cross behind him and Calvary before him, we might suppose that Christ would be wholly occupied with his approaching sufferings, and that nothing else could find place in his mind. Yet we perceive that in these circumstances, as before, when approaching Jerusalem, he is more affected with the prospect of the calamities coming upon his countrymen than with those coming upon himself.
28. But Jesus, turning unto them, said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children.
By telling them to weep not so much for him as for themselves, he strongly intimates that the sufferings about to come upon them were much more dreadful than would fall upon himself: for where men have much to fear for themselves, it usually swallows up all concern for other persons.
29. For behold the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps that never gave suck.
The calamities which mothers shall see befal their children shall be so great, that they shall wish that they had never been born, and shall esteem those happy who never had any.
30. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
Although to have the mountains and rocks fall upon you are some of the greatest calamities which can overtake you, yet this shall be deemed preferable to those calamities which you have to expect, from falling into the hands of your enemies. These expressions are borrowed from Hosea, x. 8.
31. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?
These words have been thus paraphrased. "If divine Providence, for wise ends, permits this suffering to befal me, who am an innocent person; so that there is no more apparent propriety in my being abandoned to this fate than in green wood being employed for fuel; what will be done to you, whose vices render you as ripe for destruction as dry wood is fit for burning?"