Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 12 (1897)


Ms 95, 1897

The Condemnation


September 22, 1897

Formerly Undated Ms 11. Previously unpublished.

When Pilate asked Christ, “Whence art thou?” Jesus gave him no answer. “Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and I have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him.” [John 19:9-12.] 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 1

But the Jews were exceedingly mad at the very thought of such a thing, and they all cried out as with one voice, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” [Verse 12.] 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 2

Here is revealed the hypocrisy of the Jews in their deep plotting and cunning artifice. The priests and rulers were prepared to place themselves in a deceptive position, and make false charges if they could only get rid of Christ. They tried to make it appear that the Jews admitted Caesar’s supremacy, while they were the greatest opponents of the Roman power. In order to gain their end and get rid of Christ, they spoke falsehoods. They professed to be most devoted subjects of Caesar while they hated his rule and supremacy. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 3

When it was safe for them to be so, they were most tyrannical in their church requirements; when they aimed to bring about some purpose of cruelty, they exalted the power of Caesar. They had no conscience. They had no pure principles. They declared that the world was gone after Christ, and that all men would believe in Him if He were permitted to live. They charged Him with creating insurrection, forbidding His disciples to pay tribute, “saying that he himself is a king.” [Luke 23:2.] But this charge was so wholly at variance with the appearance of the man, that Pilate did not believe their words. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 4

“He that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” [John 19:11.] By this Christ meant Caiaphas, who, as high priest, represented the Jewish nation. They knew the principles that controlled the Roman authorities. They had had light in the prophecies, in the plain written Word that testified of Christ, and according to their light would they be judged. The words of Christ filled Pilate with awe, and created fear and anxiety as to his own course of action. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 5

Pilate had made the statement in regard to his power to crucify Christ or to release Him according to his view of the matter. But when he considered that he was in some way in connection with the Highest authority the world ever knew, he was afraid. He thought he could on his own authority let Christ go forth uncondemned. But the words of the Jew, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend; whosoever maketh himself king speaketh against Caesar,” meant more than Pilate dared to risk. [Verse 12.] To have complaint of Him go forth from the priests and rulers, to have them impeach his course of action, would risk his place and his authority. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 6

This threat increased the guilt of the Jewish nation before God. They would accomplish their purpose; to gratify their envy and a false religious zeal, they would get rid of jesus. And to accomplish the destruction of Christ, they would place themselves in a false position, professing loyalty to a foreign ruler whom they hated. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 7

Pilate then took his place on the judgment seat. He had made his decision. He presented Jesus in mockery to them, “Behold your king.” But the mad cry is heard, Crucify Him, crucify Him. In a voice that is heard far and near Pilate asks, “Shall I crucify your king?” But the loud ringing, awful cry goes forth from profane, blasphemous lips, “We have no king but Caesar.” [Verses 14, 15.] 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 8

Here, by the representatives of the nation, God was denied as their ruler. By worlds unfallen, by the whole heavenly universe, the blasphemous utterance was heard. The God of heaven saw their choice. He gave them opportunity to repent, and because they did not, forty years afterward Jerusalem was destroyed, and a foreign power ruled over the people. Then they had no deliverer. They had no king but Caesar. Henceforth the Jewish nation, as a nation, would be as a branch severed from the vine, a dead, fruitless branch to be gathered up and burned. From land to land throughout the world, from century to century, dead, dead in trespasses and sins, <without a Saviour!> 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 9

In order to be sure of the favor of Caesar, Pilate yielded Christ up whom he had pronounced without fault. Christ was again scourged. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 10

Since the passover supper with His disciples, neither food nor drink had been given Jesus. He had agonized in the garden of Gethsemane in conflict with satanic agencies, who strove to divorce Him from God as the Jews had done. But Christ would not yield. The conflict was so terrible that great drops of blood came from the pores of His skin, moistening the sods of Gethsemane. He was betrayed by Judas with expressions of love, with a kiss. His disciples all forsook Him and fled. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 11

He was taken to Annas, then to Caiaphas, and then to Pilate. From Pilate He was sent to Herod. But Herod would not pronounce sentence against Him, for he found nothing in Him to condemn. But nevertheless He was mocked, and every insult heaped upon Him. Then He was sent again to Pilate. From insult to renewed insult, from mockery to mockery, twice tortured by the scourge—all that night had been scene after scene of a character to try the soul of man beyond endurance. But Christ failed not. He spoke no word but that tended to glorify God. All through the disgraceful farce of a trial He bore Himself with dignity. He did not utter one syllable more than was essential. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 12

The eloquent silence, the patience and serenity He maintained throughout the cruel scene had a different effect on the several actors. The face of Jesus spoke conviction to Pilate. His humanity was not extinguished. But the same meekness and patience excited in the hearts of the Jews satanic attributes. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 13

Christ bore Himself as one who was making a voluntary sacrifice. After the second scourging, after the crown of cruel thorns that pierced His sacred temples, leaving the blood traces upon His face, and the cross was laid upon Him, human nature could bear no more. He fell fainting beneath the burden. Can we be surprised that the women of Jerusalem, who were undesignedly in that procession, felt their hearts stirred with pity? 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 14

Written over the cross in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin was the inscription, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” When the priests saw the writing they made haste to Pilate, and told him that he had made a mistake. They wished him to write, “He said he was the king of the Jews.” But Pilate would not change the writing. “What I have written, I have written,” he answered. [Verses 19, 21, 22.] This was, in the providence of God, to awaken thought and investigation of the old Testament Scriptures. The place where Christ was crucified was near to the city. All could read it. It was a living truth transcribed by a hand that God had guided. 12LtMs, Ms 95, 1897, par. 15