CONDEMNED TO DEATH AND ON THE WAY TO CALVARY.
PILATE saw the meeting was rapidly becoming an uncontrollable mob, that an insurrection was developing, and that they would bring charges against him before the emperor. He realized he could not save the Prisoner without sacrificing himself, and he gave orders for preparations for the sentence.
Pilate called for the robes he wore on state occasions, and slaves brought him his beautiful flowing purple garments, his diadem set with precious stones and his lillet of gold. An official called a lictor, with the fasces, stands before him, his officers take their places, secretaries carrying scrolls of parchment draw near, one with the trumpet stands by, and thus surrounded with the highest palace officials, the officers walking before, Pilate coming last, all march in a long procession from the palace to the Forum.
There was the elevated seat of the Roman governor, formed like a throne, with a long purple canopy behind it decorated with the emblems of Rome's dominions, the golden eagle, and insignia of the world-wide empire S. P. Q.'R. " The Senate And The Roman People."
Behind the throne rose twelve fine white marble pillars with Corinthian capitals sustaining a kind of baldachin, forming a half circle. In the middle of the half circle was the procurator's throne. In the front, down some five feet lower, was the large open space, called the Forum by the Romans, the Lithostrotos by the Greeks, and the Gabbatha by the Jews. Down in this large Forum, beyond a white line marked on the stone pavement, over which they could not pass without becoming defiled, was a vast multitude of Jews, while great crowds filled all the spaces round the palace, and covered the tops of all the neighboring houses on every side. Back of Pilate's throne, beside the pillars, were seats for the officials of the court, on which officers sat when Pilate had taken his seat. Soldiers in shining armor with swords in scabbards stood around with long spears in their hands. They formed the procurator's body-guard.
The guard brought the Lord up towards the seat of judgment, and there he stood on the stone pavement in the court or Forum below, facing Pilate, his head about on a level with the procurator's feet. The crown of thorns was on his head, the old purple garment hung from his shoulders, his hands tied with cords. As soon as Jesus was brought before him, Pilate motioned for silence, and said:
" Behold your king."
But again with a mighty sound from every throat rose the cry : (Isaias v. 7.) " Crucify him." Crucify him." " Away with him."' " Let him die."
" Shall I crucify your king ? " " We have no king but Caesar." " We will not have this man rule over us." (Luke xix. 14.)
Many of the priests, appointed by lot for the Temple services that week, had left to offer the morning sacrifice at nine o'clock, but Caiphas, Annas, the leaders of the priests, the elders of the people with the Scribes and Pharisees remained, and again they demanded his death.
The two thieves had been condemned to death some days before, but the high priests had obtained a respite for them, in order that Christ might be executed with and between these two infamous criminals so as to still more degrade him. But they did not know they were fulfilling the prophecy. " Therefore will I distribute him to very many, and he shall divide the spoils of the strong, because he hath delivered his soul unto death, and was reputed with the wicked, and he hath borne the sins of many, and hath prayed for the transgressors." (Isaias liii. 12.)
Josephus tells us Palestine was at that time infested with many bands of robbers and criminals called Sicarii, from the swords they used. (Antiq., xvii. 10. Sec. 8 ; xx. 8. Sec. 10.) The Greek word of the Gospel says that they were robbers. Jesus Bar-Abbas with these two robbers belonged to a wild band of bandits, who began by rising against the Roman power, and then turned to plundering and murdering for a living.
The parable of the Good Samaritan shows how travelers were treated on the way to Jericho. About half-way down into the deep Jordan valley, on the left, on a hill beside the road, you will find the remains of the hotel to which the Good Samaritan took the man who fell among thieves.