Matthew 27:19-20. When he was set down, &c. While Pilate was labouring to effect his purpose, he was confirmed in his unwillingness to condemn Jesus, by a message sent from his wife by way of caution; which message was probably delivered to him publicly, in the hearing of all present, for it was intended to be a warning, not to him only, but to the prosecutors: saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man Gr. τω δικαιω , that righteous man; an honourable testimony this, not only to our Lord’s innocence, but to his virtue and universal goodness, given even at a time when he was persecuted as the worst of malefactors. And, when his friends were afraid to appear in his defence, God made even those that were strangers and enemies to speak in his favour: when Peter denied him, Judas confessed him; when the chief priests pronounced him guilty of death, Pilate declared he found no fault in him; when the women that loved him stood afar off, Pilate’s wife, that knew little of him, showed a concern for him! Observe, reader, God will not leave himself without witnesses to the truth and equity of his cause, even when it seems to be most spitefully run down by its enemies, and most shamefully deserted by its friends. I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him Whether she dreamed of the cruel usage of an innocent person, or of the judgments that were about to fall upon those that had any hand in his death, or both, her dream, it seems, was very frightful and distressing, and made such an impression on her mind, that she could not be easy till she had sent an account of it to her husband, who was sitting on the tribunal in the pavement. And the special providence of God must be acknowledged in sending this remarkable dream at this time; for it is not likely that she had heard any thing before concerning Christ, at least not so as to occasion her dreaming of him, but that the dream was immediately from God. She might, indeed, be one of those termed devout and honourable women, and might have some sense of religion; yet God sometimes revealed himself to some that had not, as to Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. Be this as it may, her message was a fair warning to Pilate, and by it and similar instances we learn, that, as the Father of spirits has many ways of access to the spirits of men, and can give them instruction even in a dream, or vision of the night; so he has many ways of giving checks to sinners in their sinful pursuits; and it is a great mercy to have such checks, whether from the word of God, or from his providence, or from faithful friends, or from our own consciences, or in any other way. The people had not yet said whether they would have Jesus or Barabbas released to them. Therefore, when Pilate received his wife’s message, he called the chief priests and rulers together, and in the hearing of the multitude made a speech to them, wherein he gave an account of the examination which Jesus had undergone at his tribunal and at Herod’s, and declared that in both courts the trial had turned out honourably for his character. Wherefore he proposed to them that he should be the object of the people’s favour. See Luke 23:13-17. But the chief priests, &c., persuaded the multitude, both by themselves and their emissaries, whom they sent abroad among them, that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus Suggesting, doubtless, that he was an impostor in league with Satan; an enemy to their church and temple; that if he were let alone, the Romans would come and take away their place and nation; that Barabbas, though an ill man, yet, not having the interest that Jesus had, could not do so much mischief. Thus they managed the mob, who otherwise were well affected to Jesus, and, if they had not been so much at the beck of their priests, would never have done such a preposterous thing as to prefer Barabbas before Jesus. Here, 1st, We cannot but look upon these wicked priests with indignation. By the law, in certain matters of controversy, the people were to be guided by the priests, and to do as they directed them, Deuteronomy 17:8. This great power, put into their hands, they wretchedly abused, and the leaders of the people caused them to err. 2d, We cannot but look upon the deluded people with pity, to see them hurried on thus violently to such great wickedness, and failing into the ditch with their blind leaders!
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