« ÎnapoiContinuă »
government, when it is not in our power to cruis him. All these, and the like sins, concurred to occasion this part of our blessed Saviour's sufferings, and will for his sake be forgiven, if we duly repent of them, and believe in him.
II. We now come to consider the sufferings and indignities which Jesus endured before king Herod. Our blessed Lord had, indeed, already suffered a great deal. He had been led about the city in bonds, as a gazing-stock to be reviled and insulted, and had been brought in that manner from Pilate to Herod. It is hardly to be supposed that the procession was slow, and that they led him along gently. On the contrary, it is more probable that the rude multitudė dragged him, and pushed him, in a brutish manner; since they were impatient to have the trial over. Thus the sacred body of our blessed Saviour, which, the night before, had sweated blood during his mental agony, was now the more enfeebled by this rude treatment, and was after all this, on the same day, obliged to drag the cross after him to mount Golgotha But the sufferings which Christ endured before Herod properly consisted of these four particulars.
1. In the disadvantageous opinion which Herod conceived of him. This profligate and voluptuous Prince looked on our Saviour as a sorcerer, who performed surprising wonders by his skill in magic. On this account he was exceeding glad when he was informed, that this famous magician, as he thought, of whom he had already heard such strange things, was to be brought before him. He made no doubt that he should be entertained with the sight of many wonderful performances, which he had only heard of before from other persons. To hear the pure doctrine of the blessed Jesus, and to be instructed by him how to live in chastity, righteousness, and holiness, was no part of Herod's desire; but his impatience was to see Jesus, being persuaded that he would be very glad to exhibit the most surprising
specimens of his art to a person of his high rank, in order to gain his favour, as a means for his deliverance. This unworthy idea, which Herod entertained of our blessed Saviour, is unquestionably to be reckoned as a part of his sufferings. How deep was the abasement of the son of the most High! For as he was afterwards numbered among the transgressors; so here he suffers himself to be reckoned among jugglers, sorcerers, and magicians, that he might open a way to grace and repentance for such deluded engines of satan.
2. The sufferings of Christ before Herod further consisted in many unnecessary, curious, and contemptuous questions, which were put to him. We are told by St. Luke, that Herod' questioned him in many words,' the purport of which questions, and the manner of asking them, the evangelist has not specified and as they probably related to such trivial and improper things, that Jesus did not think them worth his notice, it may be presumed, that his questions were suitable to his expectations of seeing Jesus perform some magical wonders. It is not improbable that he enquired, Whether he was John the Baptist? Whether the soul of that prophet was transfuised into Jesus? What methods he took instantaneously to cure certain distempers? Whether he pretended to be the king of the Jews? Whether he laid any claim to the province of Galilee? How he could expect to make good his pretensions ? &c. besides many sarcastical questions concerning the mean appearance, and the prophetic and kingly office of the blessed Jesus. How sensibly must this have affected our blessed Lord! How must he have grieved to hear so many vain, idle, and sarcastical questions; and this at a time when he was taken up with the most important serious thoughts for reconciling heaven and earth, and, by the shedding of his precious blood, to establish everlasting peace between God and man! He therefore neither returned any
answer to Herod's questions, nor gratified his culpable curiosity by any signs or wonders. He would not cast pearls before swine, nor use his divine power of working miracles to make a show to entertain the wanton eyes of a voluptuous scoffer. He was likewise well assured, that the sentence of death was not to be executed on him by Herod, the Jewish king, but by the Roman governor; therefore he kept silence, that he might be the sooner remanded back to his appointed judge.
3. Our blessed Saviour's sufferings before Herod consisted also in the violent accusations of his adversaries. Itis said, by the evangelist, 'the chief Priests and scribes stood, and vehemently accused him.' They bent the bow of malice to its utmost stretch and lay their heads together, to set forth their accusations in the most probable, and at the same time, the most virulent manner. Here they may be supposed to have collected together whatever they could find to object against Christ, not only relating to an insurrection and revolt, but likewise concerning the article of heresy. Thus a favourable opportunity presented itself to Herod, to display his zeal for the Jewish church and religion; for he studied every way to ingratiate himself with the Jews, and for this purpose, had given himself the trouble of coming to Jerusalem at this time on account of the feast of the Passover. Here doubtless they magnified to the utmost the great mischiefs which they pretended, this man had done in Galilee, which was properly Herod's government: How some thousands of the common people had gone frequently after him, and thus given themselves up to an idle and disorderly life, neglecting their families and respective callings; so that they become a burden to the public. They probably represented that this was the man whom his royal father, in his great wisdom, was for destroying when he heard of his birth by the eastern Magi; and that at present, he
had a favourable opportunity of ridding the Jewish church and state of such a pernicious heretic and rebel, and by that means of endearing his memory to the latest posterity. These indeed are the motives, which the spirit of this world often finds successful in exciting the minds of the great and powerful to the most cruel persecutions.
4. Lastly, The sufferings of Christ before Herod likewise consisted in many barbarous insults and mockeries. 'Herod and his men of war,' as the evangelist informs us, 'set him at nought, and mocked him; and having arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, sent him again to Pilate.' Herod resented our blessed Lord's silence; looked upon it as a contempt of his dignity, that he would not so much as return an answer to the many questions he had asked him; and therefore he was determined to make Jesus feel the weight of his displeasure, and accordingly mocked and abused him in a barbarous and inhuman manner. He not only insulted our blessed Saviour with all manner of contumelious words, and opprobrious names, but ordered a gorgeous or a white robe to be put on him, as a mock ensign of royalty; for the latter was the usual habit worn at Rome by those who stood candidates for the Consulship, &c. In this garb of mock pageantry, he was first presented to Herod's court as a laughing-stock, and then sent back through the streets of Jerusalem to Pilate.
A white garment, indeed, was no reproach to the blessed Jesus. He was the pure unspotted, and innocent Lamb of God, who was clear from all guilt; which Herod, undesignedly and against his will, was obliged to acknowledge even by his mockery. He was the King of Kings : He was the Prince of Peace, and the conqueror of all his enemies, (Rev. vi. 2.xix. 11. 14.) He was the Antitype of the high priest of the Jewish church who, on the great day of atonement, went into the holy of holies clothed in a
white vestment. But of these mysteries Herod was entirely ignorant: He looked upon it as a ridicule on the sacred person of Jesus, and this white robe was put on him amidst the loud laughters and brutal mockeries of Herod and his soldiers.
In this contemptuous indignity Herod first set the example. He despised Jesus as a mean obscure person, and one of no account, whose head was stuffed with chimerical notions of royalty, though he had no power to execute his airy projects; and at the same time he mocked the blessed Jesus, and treated him like a child or an ideot. By this scandalous behaviour, however, he debased himself most; for to mock and insult a helpless person, oppressed with grief and misery, by no means becomes a magnanimous prince; on the contrary, it argues a most base. and degenerate mind. His court we may be sure were not wanting in imitating their sovereign; particularly his guards, who were then present, endeavoured to entertain him by all manner of ludicrous jests and grimaces, in contempt of the person of the blessed Jesus.
These execrable proceedings so highly pleased Herod, that he harboured no farther hatred against Pilate from that time. For the evangelist adds, that Pilate and Herod were the same day made friends together, though before, they were at enmity between themselves,' (Luke xxiii. 12.) They had been more particularly inveterate against each other, since Pilate had caused some of Herod's subjects to be barbarously massacred at Jerusalem. Thus Christ was to be the pledge of this reconciliation, and the means of renewing the friendship between these two great personages. But, at the same time, a divine intimation was given, that through this same Jesus, the enmity between Jews and Gentiles should be abolished, (Pilate being a Gentile, and Herod a Jew) and the peace, which had been interrupted, restored. we shall deduce the following truths: