The Signs of the Times


January 24, 1900

Before Pilate


“Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment; and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the Passover.” The Jewish priests were strict in observing their own traditions. They would not enter the Roman judgment-hall, for fear of defilement. But their hearts were already defiled by sin. They were seeking the death of Him who was represented by the Passover, and who passed over the houses of the Israelites, and slew the Egyptians. Through their own evil work the priests and rulers had already separated themselves from God, and were confederating with the synagog of Satan. By cherishing envy and jealousy, they were transgressing every precept of the law of God. They were acting out the attributes of the enemy of God. ST January 24, 1900, par. 1

“Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this Man? They answered and said unto him, If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” “Then Pilate entered into the judgment-hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto Him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered Thee unto me; What hast Thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now is My kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto Him, Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice.” Christ affirmed that His word was in itself a key which would unlock the mystery to those who were prepared to receive it. It had a self-commending power, and this was the secret of the spread of His kingdom of truth. He desired Pilate to understand that only by receiving and appropriating truth could ruined nature be reconstructed. ST January 24, 1900, par. 2

Pilate was convicted. “What is truth?” he inquired. But he did not wait for a reply. The tumult outside recalled him to the interests of the hour; for the priests were clamorous for immediate action. Going out to the Jews, who stood beyond the door of the hall, he declared emphatically, “I find no fault in Him at all.” O, if Pilate had only stood firm, refusing to condemn a man whom he found guiltless, he would have broken the fatal chain that was to bind him in remorse and guilt as long as he lived! Many who heard his words remembered them ever after. As they thought of the Man pronounced innocent by the judge, and yet given up to mob law, they were led to ask themselves what power they were under. ST January 24, 1900, par. 3

When the priests heard Pilate's words, they broke out into a torrent of accusation. Standing behind Pilate, in view of all in the court, Christ heard the abuse, but to all the false charges against Him He answered not a word. His whole bearing gave evidence of conscious innocence. He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. It was as if the heavy surges of wrath, rising higher and higher, like the waves of the boisterous ocean, broke about Him, but did not touch Him. He stood silent, but His silence was eloquence. It was as a light shining from the inner to the outer man. Thus He gave evidence of His superior wisdom. ST January 24, 1900, par. 4

Pilate was astonished at His bearing. Does this Man disregard the proceedings because He does not care to save His life? he asked himself. Christ had spoken to Pilate of His kingdom of truth, and conviction had fastened itself in the mind of the governor. He was fully convinced that the Prisoner had been delivered to him from motives of envy. As he looked at Jesus, bearing insult and mockery without retaliation, he felt that he could not be as unrighteous and unjust as were the clamoring priests. He felt compelled to declare the Prisoner's innocence. ST January 24, 1900, par. 5

“I find no fault in this Man,” he declared. As the priests heard this, “they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place.” When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time. Besides escaping responsibility in regard to the trial of Christ, Pilate thought that this would be a good opportunity to heal an old quarrel between himself and Herod. In this he was not wrong; for the two magistrates made friends over the trial of the Saviour. ST January 24, 1900, par. 6

“When Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by Him. Then he questioned with Him in many words.” But to all the questions asked by Herod, Christ answered nothing. He knew the wickedness of the men before Him. He knew that were He to say anything, however true and elevating it might be, it would be like casting pearls before swine. They would trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend Him. ST January 24, 1900, par. 7

“And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.” They were acting under the inspiration of the first apostate, the enemy of God. When the rulers of the people are wicked and designing, Satan has every opportunity of representing his character as it is. ST January 24, 1900, par. 8

“And Herod with His men of war set Him at naught, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe.” The Jewish priests encouraged the insults and cruelty of the mob. One day priests and rulers will see as in a mirror the words spoken and the actions performed in order to stir up the wildest passions of the hardened soldiers to mock and ridicule Christ. But it will be too late, too late to take back that night's work. ST January 24, 1900, par. 9

Mrs. E. G. White