"Now when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus forth and sat down in the judgment-seat, in the place that is called Lithostrotos and in Hebrew Gabbatha. And it was the parasceve of the Pasch about the sixth hour." 1
Pilate did not care so much regarding the truth, as how to get out of the difficulty in which he found himself. Three times already, as we have given, the headstrong Jews had conquered him. He remembered how Herod, a king, had been obliged to go to Rome a number of times to defend himself against their charges, how but a few years before his son Archelaus had been deposed and exiled at their request. He saw that the whole Jewish nation, assembled for the Passover, now surrounded the Palace and filled the Forum demanding the death of the Accused, and he felt that if they brought the case before Tiberius he would be deposed.
The vision of that mighty monarch, who from the palace of the Caesars and from the rocky heights of Capri made the world tremble, and the very thought of the whole Jewish nation summoning him before this inexorable judge, charging him with the crime of treason, which Tacitus calls "A crime against Majesty, the greatest of all accusations " (Tacitus, Annales, iii. 38.) and the vision of his trial, the plundering of his whole fortune, his exile and his death, rose before the mind of the weak procurator.
It was now near noon and there, down in the great paved court before him, filling every place around the palace, and covering the flat-domed houses, on all sides, surged the mighty clamoring crowd, gesticulating, shouting, moving back and forth.
"This is your king," Pilate began again. But his voice was drowned with the mighty cry.
"Away with him." "Crucify him." "Away with him."
"This is your king. Shall I crucify your king ?"
"We have no king but Caesar."
This terrified Pilate more. He was convinced of his innocence, but he had his own interests at heart. He felt he would lose his office. " But they were insistent, with loud voices requiring that he might be crucified, and their voices prevailed." (Luke xxiii, 23)
The sufferings brought on Jesus did not all come from men acting according to the instincts of humanity, but for the most part the Jewish people were inspired by the demon. Behold now the real Job with his terrible skin-disease which the demon with God's permission brought on him. Job and his friends could not understand why a just man should be so afflicted without cause. But in foretelling Christ, his life and Passion, God made the prophets act out the terrible tragedy in their own persons, for acts are more striking than words. This is the reason that from every page of the Old Testament, the Redeemer is seen in the lives and acts of the great men of Israel who lived before him.
Job, sitting on his dunghill, laments his awful skin-disease, not knowing why God allowed him to be thus afflicted; but his words foretell the terrible scene we have described. In his patience Job speaks in the person of Christ.
(JOB LIVED IN THE DAYS OF ABRAHAM.)
"I will say to God: Do not condemn me, tell me why thou judgest me so. Doth it seem good to thee, that thou shouldst calumniate me, the work of thy own hands, and help the council of the wicked. . . . And should know that I have done no wicked thing, whereas there is no man that can deliver me out of thy hand. . . . Thou renewest thy witnesses against me, and multipliest thy wrath upon me, and pains war against me. (Job x.)
"My spirit shall be wasted, my days shall be shortened, and only the grave remaineth for me. I have not sinned, and my eye abideth in bitterness. Deliver me, O Lord, and set me beside thee, and let any man's hand fight against me. He hath made me as it were a byword of the people, and I am an example before them. My eye is dim through indignation, and my limbs are brought as it were to nothing. (Job xvii.) They that were some time my counsellors have abhorred me, and he whom I loved most is turned against me. The flesh being consumed, my bone hath cleaved to my skin, and nothing but lips are left around my teeth. Have pity on me, at least you my friends, because the hand of the Lord hath touched me. Why do you persecute me as God, and glut yourselves with my flesh? For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God. (xix.)
"They have destroyed my ways, they have lain in wait against me, they have prevailed, and there was none to help. They have rushed in upon me as when a wall is broken and a gate opened and have rolled themselves down to my miseries. I am brought to nothing, as a wind thou hast taken away my desires, and my prosperity hath passed away like a cloud and now my soul fadeth within myself, and the day of affliction possesses me. (xxx.)
1 The parasceve was " the preparation, "the eve of the Sabbath, which fell in the Passover celebration, which began the evening of Thursday the 14th moon and lasted till the 21st moon. The Saturday within this time was the Great Sabbath. There seems to be a contradiction between Sts. Mark and John regarding the hour the death-sentence was pronounced (Mark xv. 25. John xix. 14). For the first follows the Hebrew way of counting and the latter the Roman custom. The Jews had prayers in the Temple and synagogues at the third hour, that is nine in the morning, at the sixth hour .that is noon, and at the ninth hour, at three in the afternoon. These were called the "Watches " during the night and " Hours " during the day. As Maldonatus. Jausenius and others well remark, the ancients did not mark the hours as precisely as we do, for they had no time-pieces, If you ask a person in Jerusalem to-day how long it would take to go to Bethlehem or Jericho he will always say so many hours. It makes no difference whether you walk or ride.