Mark 14:55-59. And all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death Which they were determined to do. They had seized him as a malefactor; and now they had him, they had no indictment to prefer against him, no crime to lay to his charge: but they sought for witnesses against him. They artfully sifted some by sly interrogatories, offered bribes to others to prevail on them to accuse him, and endeavoured by threats to compel other, to do it. The chief priests and elders were, by the law, intrusted with the prosecuting and punishing of false witnesses, Deuteronomy 19:16, yet they were now ringleaders in a crime that tended to the overthrow of all justice. Deplorable is the condition of a country, when those that should be the conservators of peace and equity are the corrupters of both! And found none What an amazing proof of the overruling providence of God, considering both their authority, and the rewards they could offer, that no two consistent witnesses could be procured to charge him with any gross crime! Their witness, their evidences, agreed not together So also the Vulgate, Convenientia testimonia non erant. But the Greek words, ισαι ουκ ησαν , which, literally rendered, are, were not equal, are understood by many to signify, Not equal to the charge of a capital crime. So Dr. Hammond; they did not accuse him of that upon which a sentence of death might be founded; no, not by the utmost stretch of their law. Dr. Campbell, who considers the phrase in the same light, renders it, Their testimonies were insufficient; observing, “On a doubtful point, where the words appear susceptible of either interpretation, we ought to be determined by the circumstances of the case. Now there is nothing in the whole narrative that insinuates the smallest discrepancy among the witnesses. On the contrary, in the gospels the testimony specified is mentioned as given by all the witnesses. The differences in Matthew and Mark, one saying, I will rebuild, another, I can rebuild; one adding, made with hands, another omitting it; not only are of no moment in themselves, but are manifestly differences in the reports of the evangelists, not in the testimony of the witnesses; nor are they greater than those which occur in most other facts related from memory. What therefore perplexed the pontiffs and the scribes was, that, admitting all that was attested, it did not amount to what could be accounted a capital crime. This made the high-priest think of extorting from our Lord’s mouth a confession which might supply the defect of evidence. This expedient succeeded to their wish; Jesus, though not outwitted by their subtlety, was no way disposed to decline suffering, and therefore readily supplied them with the pretext they wanted.” The same expression is used in the 59th verse. See the note on Matthew 26:59-61. There arose certain, and bare false witness There is no wickedness so black, no villany so horrid, but there may be found among mankind fit tools to be used in it: so miserably depraved and vitiated is human nature! Saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple, &c. It is observable, that the words which they thus misrepresented were spoken by Christ at least three years before, (John 2:19.) Their going back so far to find matter for the charge was a glorious, though silent attestation, of the unexceptionable manner wherein he had behaved, through the whole course of his public ministry.
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