Pilate and Ourselves Guilty of the Savior's Death

   (No. 1648)




   "When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a
   tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the
   multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just Person: see
   you to it. Then answered all thepeople, and said, His blood be on us,
   and on our children." Matthew 27:24,25.

   THE Crucifixion of Christ was the crowning sin of our race. In His
   death we shall find all the sins of mankind uniting in foul conspiracy.
   Envy and pride and hate are there, with covetousness, falsehood and
   blasphemy eager to rush on to cruelty, revenge, and murder! The devil
   awakened around the Seed of the woman the iniquities of us all--they
   compassed the Lord about, yes, they compassed Him about like bees. All
   the evils of human hearts of all ages were concentrated around the
   Cross, even as all the rivers run into the sea and as all the clouds
   empty themselves upon the earth, so did all the crimes of man gather to
   the slaying of the Son of God! It seemed as if Hell held a formal
   reception and all the various forms of sin came flocking to the
   rendezvous--army upon army they hastened to the battle!

   As the vultures hasten to the body, so came the flocks of sins to make
   the Lord their prey. By all the assembled troops of sins there was
   consummated the foulest crime which the sun has ever beheld. By wicked
   hands they did crucify and slay the Savior of the world! We have been
   singing two hymns in which we took to ourselves a share of the guilt of
   our Lord's death. We sang--

   "Oh, the sharp pangs of smarting pain My dear Redeemer bore,

   When knotty whips and rugged thorns His sacred body tore. But knotty
   whips and rugged thorns In vain do I accuse! In vain I blame the Roman
   bands And the more spiteful Jews!

   'Twas you, my sins, my cruel sins, His chief tormentors were! Each of
   my crimes became a nail, And unbelief the spear."

   And then after the same manner we sorrowfully asked a question and sang
   a penitential reply--

   "My Jesus! Who with spit vile

   Profaned Your sacred brow?

   Or whose unpitying scourge has made

   Your precious blood to flow?

   'Tis I have thus ungrateful been,

   Yet, Jesus, pity take!

   Oh, spare and pardon me, my Lord,

   For Your sweet mercy's sake!" Perhaps some of you hardly understand
   what you have been singing. But others of us have sincerely and
   intelligently pleaded guilty of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. We
   know that He not only suffered for our transgressions, but by our
   iniquities. This is not clear to a great many and I would not have them
   pretend that it is. They cannot see that they have anything to do with
   the matter of Jesus' death and, therefore, they are not moved to
   repentance by hearing of it. Indeed, they imitate the example of Pilate
   in our text when he took water and washed his hands before the
   multitude and said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person."

   The object of our present discourse will be to awaken slumbering
   consciences. Without going into any metaphysical questions as to
   whether such a man did or did not actually have a share in the
   particular action by which Jesus died, I shall show you that in many
   ways men practically commit a like crime and so prove that they have
   similar dispositions to those ancient Kill-Christ's! Though they
   repudiate the Crucifixion, they repeat it, if not in form, yet in
   spirit. Though

   Jesus is not here in flesh and blood, yet the cause of holiness and
   truth and His Divine Spirit are still among us and men act towards the
   Kingdom of Christ, which is set up among them, in the same way as the
   Jews and Romans acted towards the Incarnate God!

   True, all men are not, alike, against Him, for the Lord spoke of some
   who have "the greater sin," and few are as guilty as the traitor Judas,
   that son of perdition! But in every form of it the rejection of Christ
   is a great sin and it will be a great Gospel blessing if it is repented
   of after the fashion of the Prophet when he said, "They shall look upon
   Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns
   for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in
   bitterness for his first-born." I shall now take up the story of our
   Lord's appearance before Pilate, from the moment of His being sent back
   to Herod to the time when He was delivered to the Jews to be led away
   for Crucifixion. And I shall try to exhibit, by this narrative, several
   ways in which men virtually put the Christ to death and, therefore,
   become partakers of the ancient transgression which was committed at

   I. First, there are some--and these are they who have the greater
   CHRIST. These are the men who are represented by the chief priests and
   elders of the Jews, who of old sought the Savior's blood because they
   could not endure His teaching. Nothing else would satisfy them but that
   He should be removed from the earth, for He was a standing protest
   against their evil deeds. They hated Him because by His Light their
   wicked lives were reproved. These were the true murderers of Christ,
   who gloried in their shame and defied the punishment of it, crying,
   "His blood be on us, and on our children."

   We still have among us those who cannot endure the teaching of our Lord
   Jesus. His very name seems to excite their worst passions. They rave at
   the mention of Him! Oh, the atrocious things that some have said of
   late of the Christ of God! They have gone out of their way to insult
   Him. If anyone else had been slandered as He has been, society would
   not have tolerated the loathsome tongues! Accusations against Jehovah
   and His Son would seem to be delectable morsels to modern blasphemers,
   dainties upon which they feed greedily. My flesh trembles when I think
   of the hard speeches which the ungodly still utter against Him, who, in
   the day of His humiliation, endured such contradiction of sinners
   against Himself.

   Many of these calumnies of today are absurd and to be dismissed with
   utter contempt if it were not for the guilt of the men, themselves, for
   in these speeches we see that the poison of asps is under their lips!
   Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. They do not treat so the
   heroes of war, the philosophers of antiquity, nor even the notorious
   scum of the race! To all of these they show some candor and often award
   honors which are doubtfully due--but when they touch upon the Person
   and life of our blessed Lord, candor and honesty are
   dismissed--anything like an attempt to understand Him is refused and He
   and His are treated with ridicule, misrepresentation and falsehood!
   They heap up their coarsest epithets! They put the worst interpretation
   upon His words! They give the vilest misrepresentations of His deeds
   and attribute to Him motives to which He was an utter stranger.

   Such men are among us, clamoring to be heard. There have been
   unbelievers and deriders of Jesus in all times, but just now the race
   is of fouler speech than usual. Once infidelity was philosophical and
   thoughtful--and great names were to be found upon her roll, but now her
   noisiest advocates are bullies after the manner of Tom Paine--men who
   seem to delight in wounding the feelings of the godly and crushing
   every sacred thing under their feet. These are the true followers of
   the men whose mouths were full of, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" They
   cannot endure that Jesus should be remembered, much less revered! They
   claim to be "liberal" and to be large-hearted towards all
   religions--but their unmitigated scorn of the faith of Jesus is
   displayed on every possible occasion--proving that the spirit of
   persecution burns within them.

   It would be idle for these to say that they would not crucify Christ,
   for they do crucify Him to the utmost of their power by their profane
   speeches against Him. A certain number's main attack is aimed against
   the royal authority and reigning power of the Lord Jesus. They exclaim
   against Him because He claims universal sovereignty. They might not
   object so much to Christianity as one of various creeds, but as it
   claims to be supreme, they will have nothing to do with it. The Roman
   Senate was willing to set up Jesus in the Pantheon, among other gods,
   but when they learned that Christ claimed to be worshipped, alone, then
   He was denied a place in the circle of adoration! If the Gospel claims
   to be the Truth of God and judges other systems to be false,
   straightway it arouses the opposition of the broad school! We have men
   among us today who say, "Yes, there is something good in Christianity
   just as there is in Buddhism."

   Of this precious Buddhism they seem, of late, to be wonderfully fond!
   Any idol will suit men so long as they can be rid of the living God. A
   Christ who will be everything or nothing is not to their taste. When He
   says that He will utterly demolish the idols and break His enemies in
   pieces as with a rod of iron, they give Him the cold shoulder, for they
   are distinctly the enemies of Jesus Christ if He is set forth as Lord
   of All. And we have some of milder cast, who, nevertheless, join with
   this band, for their opposition is to the Deity of Christ. These, in
   effect, cry, "We have a law, and by our law He ought to die because He
   made Himself the Son of God."

   They grow indignant over the claims which Christians advance for their
   God and Savior. Christ, the best of Men! Christ, the noblest of
   Prophets! Christ near akin to Deity, possibly a delegated God--they
   will go as far as that--but further they will not stir. "That all men
   should honor the Son even as they honor the Father" is not to their
   minds. If Jesus is preached as "very God of very God," straightway we
   hear from them the cry, "Away with Him! Away with Him!" When we
   proclaim Jesus as King upon God's holy hill of Zion and say of Him,
   "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever," they refuse to bow before
   His Divine majesty. They do, so far as they are able, destroy the
   Divinity of Christ and reduce Him to a mere man.

   How can such people blame the Jews and the Romans? They could but slay
   His manhood, but these would destroy His Deity! Is not their guilt as
   great? I charge all deniers of the Godhead of our Lord with being, as
   far as they can be, His murderers, for they strike at His noblest
   Nature by assailing His Divine power and Godhead! May the Spirit of God
   be here to convince them of their error and lead them to worship Jesus
   who is exalted at the right hand of the Father! I must charge home the
   accusation in the name of God and Truth. Avowed opposers of Christ, had
   they been alive in the days of His flesh, would have wished Him to be
   put to death, for, so far as they are concerned, He is either dead to
   them in His true Character, or else they are doing their best in their
   own conscience and upon the conscience of others to sweep Him out of

   If they say they would not have put Jesus to a literal death on the
   Cross, I say they are putting Him to a death which He would deprecate
   even more, namely, the destruction of all His influence over the minds
   of men. By decrying His Atonement by which He reconciles men to God. By
   setting men's hearts against Him and causing them to refuse His
   salvation, these men, as far as they can, rob Him of the joy that was
   set before Him, for which He endured the Cross, despising the shame! Is
   this nothing? Put me to death if you will, for I shall live when I am
   dead by the words which I have spoken! I should count it a far worse
   murder if you could sweep out of men's minds all that I have taught and
   overthrow all the good which I have attempted to do. And if it is so of
   a mere man, much more must it be so of Jesus--that merely to murder Him
   upon the Cross is comparatively little compared with declaring--"We
   will not be influenced by Him, nor believe in Him as Savior and God.
   And to the best of our power we will prevent others from believing in

   What a wretched objective for a man to live for! What a horrible fame
   for a man to seek after--to stamp out the Gospel of Jesus! Terrible
   will be the punishment of this sin! Oh, opponent of Jesus, instead of
   being less guilty than the Jews of our Lord's day, you are even more
   culpable! You are not slaying Him in one way, but you are doing it in
   another, and the crime is the same in spirit! I see a mystic Cross to
   which your cruel words nail my Lord! I see before my mental eyes a
   Calvary whereon the Lord Jesus is crucified afresh and put to an open
   shame by infidel sarcasms and skeptical insinuations! I see Him derided
   and made nothing of by those who deny His Deity and refuse to believe
   in His Sacrifice!

   Enough of this! May conscience be present here and the Spirit of God be
   present, too, that men may not dare to wash their hands in innocence if
   they have been the open antagonists of Jesus and still are so! Oh that
   you would turn to Him and become His disciples! His beauties are such
   that they might well charm every honest heart! His teaching is so
   tenderly reasonable, so full of sweetness and of light, that it is
   marvelous that men do not receive it with joy! His Cross is unique--a
   bleeding sufferer bearing offenses that were not His own--that His own
   enemies might live! The conception is so strange that it could never
   have originated in the selfish mind of fallen man. It bears its own
   witness on its brow. Woe unto those that fight against it, for it shall
   cost them dearly. He that stumbles upon this Stone shall be broken, but
   upon whomever this Stone shall fall, it shall grind him to powder!

   See what came to these Jewish people--they were, themselves, crucified
   by Titus in such numbers that they could no longer find wood enough for
   their execution! Jerusalem destroyed is the result of Jesus Crucified!
   Beware, you that fight against Him, for the Omnipotent Father will take
   up His quarrel and all the forces of Creation and of Providence will be
   at His command to wage war for Truth and righteousness! The Nazarene
   has triumphed and He will triumph even to the end when He shall have
   all His enemies under His feet! O you that hate Him, be wise and close
   the hopeless contest in which you chiefly fight against your own souls!

   II. I hope there are not many here to whom this first part of my sermon
   applies. We will advance to a second point. Pilate, having a conscience
   which troubled him, was exceedingly anxious not to put Jesus to death
   and yet could not see how he could avoid doing so, seeing that the Jews
   threatened to accuse him of lack of loyalty to Caesar and that Caesar,
   the gloomy tyrant Tiberius, was unrelenting in his fury. After first
   sending his Prisoner to Herod, he finds that he cannot escape in that
   way and, therefore, he grasps at a second hope. He tells the mob that
   the custom of the feast required that one prisoner should be released
   and that the choice remained with them. He hopes that they will choose
   Jesus of Nazareth. A vain hope, indeed!

   It so happened that there was another Jesus in prison at the time,
   namely, Jesus Barabbas, who had been a murderer and was guilty both of
   sedition and robbery. Pilate brings out the two and he gives the Jews
   their choice. It would make a wonderful picture if it were really so,
   as a writer on the Life of Christ suggests, that Pilate actually set
   the two individuals before the crowd. See there the dark-browed,
   scowling assassin, with fierce looks and every mark of fury and hate

   upon his face! The man was taken red-handed, familiar with blood, the
   brigand whose very profession was strife! There he stands like a
   wolf--and by his side is set the gentle Lamb of God. See there in His
   face all that is good, tender, benevolent, heroic.

   The incarnations of hate and love are before them--and Pilate gives the
   crowd their choice. Without hesitation they cry, "Not this Man, but
   Barabbas." "Now Barabbas was a robber." The murderer walks away free
   and the innocent Jesus is left to die! In this I shall have to impeach
   a second class of men IN THE MATTER OF THEIR CHOICE. Many among us
   have, by Divine Grace, chosen Jesus to be our Savior, King and Lord. He
   is the groundwork of our eternal hope and the spring of our present
   joy--we have selected Christ to be the Guide and Leader of our
   lives--and we are not ashamed of the choice! It has been made
   deliberately and solemnly and we renew it from day to day--

   "High Heaven that heard the solemn vow, That vow renewed shall daily
   hear, Till in life's latest hour we bow, And bless in death a bond so
   dear." I fear that some among you have not chosen Christ. But what have
   you chosen? Let me mention two or three objects of human choice, worthy
   to be ranked with Barabbas of old. Too many have chosen lust to be
   their delight--I will not paint the hideous monster--I have no colors.
   It is a foul and bestial thing! The cheek of Modesty blushes at the
   very mention of it! Yet, for the pleasures of wantonness, Christ is set
   aside. For the strange woman, many a man has thrown away his soul and
   chosen infamy instead of Glory! I half excuse the Jews for choosing
   Barabbas when I see a man obeying the lusts of the flesh instead of
   Christ--and yet I am probably addressing individuals who secretly
   indulge their baser passions and are, thereby, held back from becoming
   decided Christians. They know they cannot be followers of Christ and
   yet indulge in wantonness and chambering and, therefore, for this vile
   self-indulgence they let Jesus go.

   Very frequently I meet with persons who have chosen another Barabbas
   instead of Jesus. What if, to borrow from heathenism, I call it
   Bacchus? Drink is the demon which enthralls millions! It is a vice
   which degrades men and defaces the image of God in them. We insult the
   brutes when we say that a drunken man sinks to the level of the beasts,
   for the cattle never go so low as that! Alas, I have known men--yes,
   and women, too--who have been hearers of the Gospel and have, in a
   measure, felt its power--and yet for this sin they have sold their
   souls and given up their Savior! No drunk has eternal life abiding in
   him and, to speak plain English, there are professing Christians who
   deserve to be called by that name!

   I say that they prefer the drink-demon to the holy Lord Jesus! You
   condemn the Jews for choosing Barabbas? Where will you find a counselor
   to plead for you when you choose drunkenness? If it was sinful for them
   to choose a murderer, what must it be for you to choose this cursed
   vice which murders its hundreds of thousands? Oh, this national vice of
   ours is the vice which makes this nation a byword and a proverb among
   the nations of the earth! What shall I say of it? And is this to be set
   in rivalry with my Lord? Oh, shame, cruel shame that this should be
   selected in preference to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us!

   "Well, well," says one, "I do not fall into that sin." No, my Friend,
   but what is it that you do choose instead of Christ, for if you do not
   set Him on the throne of your heart, you are choosing something else!
   Is it that you do not want to be a Christian because you wish to save
   yourself trouble and would be happy and comfortable and enjoy yourself?
   You do not choose any openly vicious way in particular, but you prefer
   to be moderately sinful and to take care of yourself and save all care,
   thought and anxiety about death and Heaven and Hell. You think that by
   leading a careless life you are happier than if you yielded yourself to
   Jesus? You are laboring under a mistake and one thing is clear--self is
   your god--and that is an idol as groveling as any other! The idolater
   who worships a god of gold or silver, or even of stone or mud, is not
   quite so degraded as the man who worships himself! Self-worship is
   coming very low, indeed.

   When I am my own god, or my belly is my god, can there be a lower
   depth? If I live merely to be easy and comfortable and have no care for
   God, or Christ, or heavenly things--what a choice I am making! Think of
   it and be ashamed! Oh, I say again, in many a man's choice of what
   should be the object of his life, he sins precisely as they sinned who
   put away Jesus and chose Barabbas! I say no more. May the Holy Spirit
   send home this sadly convicting truth.

   III. Thirdly. Pilate, seeing that he cannot, thus, set his Prisoner
   free, gives Him over into the hands of the soldiers, who straightway
   make merry over Him and treat Him as an object of contempt. The words
   are cruel and are enough to draw tears from all eyes as we read
   them--"Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged Him. And the
   soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they
   put on Him a purple robe."

   "I am innocent here," cries one of my Hearers. What? Are you quite sure
   that you are free from THE SIN OF CONTEMPT AND OF CAUSING PAIN TO
   JESUS? Listen a while. When you have been so busy about the world that

   could not think of Him. When you have been so eager to be rich that you
   laughed at the true riches, do you not know that you were twisting a
   crown of thorns to put upon His head? Your folly in despising your own
   soul sorely wounds Him! He pities you and cannot bear to see that the
   thorns of this world should be the harvest which you sow and reap. If
   He were not so loving of heart and tender of spirit it would not
   matter, but this unkindness to yourself is unkindness to

   Him! And virtually when you have been full of cares and anxieties
   concerning the world and have had no care and no anxiety about Him or
   about your own soul, you have put a crown of thorns upon His head!

   Is this nothing? Let me ask you, when you have gone up to the place of
   worship on Sunday, as you always do, and have pretended to adore Him,
   though you do not love Him--do you know what you have done? You have
   mocked Him by a feigned worship and thus you have put the purple robe
   upon Him! That purple robe meant that they made Him a nominal king, a
   king who was not, in truth, a king, but a mere show. Your Sunday
   religion, which has been forgotten in the week, has been a scepter of
   reed, a powerless ensign, a mere sham! You have mocked and insulted Him
   even in your hymns and prayers, for your religion is a pretense with no
   heart in it! You brought Him an adoration that was no adoration, a
   confession that was no confession and a prayer that was no prayer! Is
   it not so?

   I pray you be honest with yourselves. Is it not so? And then all the
   week long have you not preferred anyone to Jesus? Any book to the
   Bible? Any exercise to prayer? Any enjoyment to communion with Him?
   Political objects have awakened you, but not the Lord's Glory nor the
   spread of His Kingdom! Is not this despising Jesus? Is not this mocking
   Him? Are there not among you some who are weary of the Lord? Weary of
   the Sabbath? Weary of sermons about Jesus? Weary of atoning blood?
   Weary of praising the Redeemer? What is this but contempt of Him? Too
   many have even jested about the holiest of things--if they have not
   mocked Jesus, personally, they have ridiculed His people for His sake
   and made mirth of His Gospel!

   By some, religion is set up as a scarecrow, and piety is treated as a
   byword! Conscientious scruples are laughed at as old-fashioned
   absurdities and devotion to Christ is set down as next of kin to
   insanity! We know it is so, even among some who are hearers of the
   Gospel and outwardly its upholders. There is contempt for the life and
   power of it--they know and honor its name--but the reality of vital
   godliness they do not value. At times their conscience thunders heavily
   at them and then they are compelled to wish they had what, at other
   times, they disdain! They do despite to the blood of Jesus and yet
   would gladly be partakers in its pardoning power.

   I fear none of us dare wash our hands of this as a sin of our fallen
   estate! Time was when those of us who love Jesus and could kiss every
   wound of His, yet thought so little of Him that anything was better
   than He. The story of His sufferings was as wearisome as a worn-out
   tale and as for giving our whole selves to Him, we deemed it a
   fanatical expression or an enthusiastic dream! Blessed Savior, You have
   forgiven us! Forgive others who are doing the same!

   IV. I have but a minute to spare for each point, so now I mast turn to
   another sin of which many are guilty, namely,

   Pilate thought he had

   another way of letting his Prisoner go, and this he tried. He scourged
   Him! I will not tell you how dreadful Roman scourging was. It could
   not, now, be equaled except, perhaps, by the Russian executioner. It
   was the most terrible of tortures. Many died under it and almost all
   the victims fainted after a few blows. By it the human frame was
   reduced to a mass of bruised, bleeding, quivering flesh. When the
   Savior was all a mass of wounds and bruises, Pilate brought Him forth
   and said, "Behold the Man," appealing to what little humanity he hoped
   there still might be in the chief priests and elders. "Behold the Man!"
   he said.

   "Is not this enough? He is crashed and battered and bleeding all
   over--is not this enough?" But they had no feeling for Him, whatever,
   and only cried, "Away with Him." If the spectacle of woe which our Lord
   presented on this occasion does not touch you, it is a lamentable proof
   of hardness of heart! Do not many read the story of His sufferings
   without emotion? Despised, reviled, crowned with thorns and scourged,
   our Lord stands alone as the Man of Sorrows, the Monarch of Miseries!
   Griefs without parallel! Woes unique and by themselves! Have you no
   tears to shed for Him whom soldiers mocked and Jews derided? No? Is it
   possible that you answer, "No"? Have you heard the story till it has
   less effect than an idle romance? For shame! For shame!

   And the worst of it is that it should not affect men when they remember
   that these griefs were voluntarily borne out of love--not of necessity
   nor from any selfish motive! His woes were borne for His enemies! He
   bade His disciples begin to preach at Jerusalem that the men who spat
   in His face might know that they had a share in His compassion--and
   that he who drove the lance into His heart was one for whom He tasted
   death! He dies praying for His murderers! Ah me! That it should be so.
   A man dying for his friend is a noble sight. But a Man dying for those
   who put him to death is the most extraordinary sight that angels ever
   beheld! There is this about it, too, which touches Believers most
   tenderly--our Lord suffered thus on our account. In His death is our
   hope, or else we are lost forever. If we have not part and lot in the
   merits of the agony, then for us there remains nothing but a fearful
   looking for judgment and of fiery indignation!

   Do we not mourn when we see Jesus dying for us? O Feeling, you are fled
   to brutish beasts and men have lost their reason! Surely our hearts
   will be like the rock in Horeb! Stricken by the rod of the Cross, our
   souls will gush with rivers of penitential grief! And here is a
   marvelous proof of our guilt--that we have compassion for everybody but
   the Savior! That we can cry over a lapdog and yet can hear of Christ
   with utter indifference! There are multitudes of persons of this kind
   and I pray God's Spirit to touch their conscience upon this matter of
   heartlessness toward Jesus. But I must hasten on, though I might wish
   to linger, leaving with meditations the enlargement of these charges.

   V. There is another crime of which many are guilty which was see in
   Pilate and that was the crime of COWARDICE. No less than three times
   did Pilate say of our Lord, "I find no fault in Him," and yet he did
   not let Him go. He himself said, "I have power to crucify You and have
   power to release You," and yet he dared not exercise the power to
   deliver. Through cowardice he dared not let his perfectly innocent
   Prisoner go free. He knew, but he did not act up to his knowledge. Have
   I any before me whose knowledge of good things far outruns their
   practice? This, surely, will be one of the never-dying worms of
   Hell--the gnawing of an instructed and disregarded conscience! Over the
   door of their prison, the lost shall read this inscription--"You knew
   your duty but you did it not." The knowledge which makes men
   responsible for their deeds increases that responsibility as it is,
   itself, increased--and with it their guilt and their punishment!

   Moreover, Pilate did not only know the right, but after his own fashion
   he wished to do it. One almost pities the vacillating coward! See how
   he struggles to release Jesus in some indirect fashion which may cost
   him nothing. He wishes. He resolves. And then he hangs back. Like a
   vessel tossed with contrary winds, he is, at one time, almost in
   harbor. But soon he is far out at sea! Oh, the quantities of dead
   wishes that one might gather in this Tabernacle, as men gather untimely
   fruit which the wind has shaken from the trees! Men wish to repent,
   wish to believe, wish to decide, wish to be holy, wish to be right with
   God--but their wishing leads to no practical decision--and so they
   perish at the threshold of mercy! Their goodness ends in empty desires
   which do but evidence their responsibility and so secure their

   Yet, to be just, we must admit that Pilate did more than wish. He spoke
   for Christ. But having spoken in His favor he did not proceed to
   action, as be was bound to have done. It is possible for a man to say
   with his tongue, "I find no fault in Him," and then by his actions to
   condemn Jesus by giving Him up to die. Words are a poor homage to the
   Savior. Not by words does He save mankind and not by lip service is He
   to be repaid! Pilate spoke boldly enough and then retreated before the
   clamors of the crowd--and yet sometimes Pilate could be firm. When
   Jesus was nailed to the Cross, the priests begged Pilate to change the
   accusation which was written over His head, but he would not, but
   replied, "What I have written, I have written."

   Why could he not have shown a little backbone when Jesus yet lived? He
   was not altogether such a weak, effeminate being as to be incapable of
   putting his foot down firmly. If he did so once, he might have done it
   before and so have saved himself from this great transgression. Are
   there any Pilates here--persons who would long ago have been Christians
   if they had possessed enough moral courage? Some foolish companion
   would laugh at them if they became religious and this they could not
   bear. Poor cowards! I heard the other day of a lad who dared not pray
   in the room where two or three others slept and so, like a coward, he
   crept into bed and succumbed to the fear of others. I fear that some
   men would sooner be damned than be laughed at!

   Another person has a wicked companion and he knows that he must cut his
   acquaintance if he becomes a follower of Jesus--this he would do, but
   he lacks courage! O you who shrink back from that which Christ's
   service involves because of the fear of men, know you not the portion
   of the fearful? O you trembling ones, is Jesus covered with wounds and
   shame for you and are you ashamed of Him? Death is coming upon Him,
   speedily, and do you hide your faces from Him? This is cruelty, indeed,
   both to Christ and to yourself! Can you not leave His enemies? "Come
   you out from among them, and be you separate: touch not the unclean
   thing." Will you not espouse His cause? "If any man will serve Me, let
   him follow Me." By this cowardice you do as much as you are able to put
   the Christ to death!

   "How?" you ask. Well, suppose everybody acted as you do? Would there be
   any Christianity in the world? If everybody was cowardly, would there
   be a Church at all? Are you not killing Christ and burying Christ as
   far as you can? Are you not destroying His influence and weakening His
   Church by refusing to acknowledge Him? Is it not so? Look at it. What
   influence you have in the world, you refuse to use for Jesus. Though
   multitudes are active in despising and opposing Him, you do not lift a
   hand in His favor. Why do you not come out and say, "I am on His side"?
   By your supposed neutrality you act as His foe! You must be on one side
   or the other--now that you have heard the Gospel--for Jesus has said,
   "He that is not with Me is against Me: he that gathers not with Me
   scatters abroad." You are against Him and you are scattering abroad!

   Suppose others follow your example? "Well," you say, "there is nothing
   bad in my example, except that I am not a Christian." Just so, and
   under some aspects the very goodness of your example makes it operate
   all the more powerfully for evil! I do not think that the example of a
   thoroughly drunken man, for instance, leads many young people into
   intemperance. On the contrary, many take warning from the spectacle and
   fly to total abstinence for security. I have often had young men and
   women coming to join the Church who have been total abstainers of the
   most intense kind because a drunken father made their childhood so
   wretched and kept the home so poor that they abhorred the accursed
   thing! See, then, how an evil example may lose its evil power by very

   Yours is another case--your example is, in some respects,
   admirable--but then you throw it on the side of the devil. The better
   man you are, the more mischief you are doing by siding with evil!
   Inasmuch as you are that which is moral, excellent, amiable, you are
   the very man whose influence Christ ought to have on His side--and if
   you cause it to go

   against Him, the fact is all the more deplorable! If the weight of your
   character goes to make men ignore the claims of the Son of God, what is
   this but spiritually to compass His death?

   VI. Lastly, and oh that the Spirit of God may bless this sharp medicine
   to some heart that it may feel the pangs of penitence this
   morning--there is the sin of SELF-RIGHTEOUS HYPOCRISY. This Pilate
   committed in set form. He took water and washed his hands and said, "I
   am innocent of the blood of this just Person: see you to it." What a
   contradiction! He is innocent, but he gives them permission to be
   guilty! They could not murder the Lord without his permission. He gives
   the necessary permit and yet he says, "I am innocent." Do I not see
   another of the same class over yonder? He says, "I do not despise
   Christ, or speak a word against Him. I am perfectly innocent of any ill
   will towards Him. Of course, if others oppose Him they may, for it is a
   free country--let them do as they like, but I am perfectly clear of

   It is not the way that a man acts if he sees another being murdered! He
   does not look on and say that he would rather not interfere. You say
   you cannot help other people's opinions? Have you no opinion of Jesus
   of your own? Do you say, "No. I never think of Him"? Is not that
   contempt? Do you decline to hold any opinion about one who claims to be
   your God? About one who must be your Savior or you must perish forever?
   You cannot sheer off in that way! Now that rebellion is afoot, you must
   either be loyal or be a traitor! The standard is unfurled and each man
   must take his side. Your negligence of Jesus contradicts your claim to
   be neutral. You pretend to leave Him alone, but that leaving alone is

   A man is in yon upper room of a burning house and you can save him. I
   use this illustration, for it is no concern of yours either way, and so
   you leave it to the firemen and their helpers. Meanwhile, the man
   perishes because you will not help him. I say that you are
   inexcusable--that man's blood lies at your door. It was your duty to
   have rescued him. So the Lord Jesus Christ comes here among men and He
   is persecuted. You quietly say, "No doubt it is a pity, but I cannot
   help it." Just so. But by your inaction you side with His foes! Do you
   say that you are so righteous that you do not need a Savior? That,
   indeed, is smiting Him on the face!

   He comes to be a Savior and you tell Him that He is superfluous? That
   you are so good that you can do without being washed in His blood? That
   is spitting in His face and telling Him that He was a fool to die for
   you! Why should He shed His blood if you are innocent enough without
   it? In effect you charge God with folly for providing a great
   Propitiation when such good people as you are need nothing of the kind!
   I do not believe anybody can more grossly insult the Son of the
   Highest! This is crucifying Him, indeed! The self-righteous man who
   says, "I am clean," deprives Christ's Sacrifice of its Glory, His life
   of its end, His Person of its dignity, His whole work of its wisdom!
   The very heart of God is set upon the objective for which Christ died
   and yet the self-righteous man counts this a folly!

   Come, my Hearers, there is no room for any of us to accuse his
   fellow--let us all come with humble confessions to the feet of Jesus,
   now risen from the dead--and let us each say to Him right sorrowfully--

   "'Tis I to whom these pains belong, 'Tis I should suffer for my wrong.
   Bound hand and foot in heavy chains Your scourge, Your fetters,
   whatever You bear, 'tis my soul should bear, For she has wel deserved
   such pains. Yet you do even for my sake On you, in love, the burdens
   take That weighed my spirit to the ground! Yes You are made a curse for
   me That I might yet be blest through Thee: My healing in Your wounds is

   OWN HYMN BOOK"--152, 581, 580.