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§ 288. Last Conversation of Jesus with Pilate.—The Sentence.

The transition is easy from infidelity, springing from worldliness and frivolity, to sudden emotions of superstition. So he who but a moment before had mockingly asked Christ, “What is truth?” went now, in a sudden access of superstitious fear, and inquired, “Whence art thou?” As the question was prompted only by superstition and curiosity, and 417as the questioner was incapable of apprehending Jesus as the Son of God in the only sense in which he wished to be acknowledged as such, the Saviour made no reply. Pilate, in astonishment, renewed his questions: “Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” To this Jesus answered: “Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above (if God had not brought it to pass that I should be delivered to thee by the Sanhedrim); therefore is the guilt of those by whom God hath delivered me unto thee greater than thine.”

Thus did Christ declare that no human will limited his life, but that his death took place in consequence of a higher necessity ordained by God, for a higher end. Pilate thereupon strove more earnestly to save him; but the Jews alarmed him with the cry, so terrible at that time, of crimen majestatis: “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king, revolts against the authority of the emperor.” To this storm of clamour the procurator at last, though reluctantly, yielded: his conscience feared the charges which the Sanhedrim might prefer against him at Rome; and his personal security was more to him than the life of an innocent man.

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