TUESDAY IN PASSION WEEK
BARABBAS IS PREFERRED BEFORE OUR LORD. HE IS SCOURGED AT THE PILLAR
Consider first, how Pilate, seeing our Lord brought back to his tribunal, and the high priest and council still bent upon destroying the innocent, thinks of another way to bring him off without giving them offence. It was the privilege of the people to have their choice of a prisoner to be set at liberty of that day of the paschal solemnity, in memory of their being delivered on that day from the bondage of Egypt. He proposes therefore to their choice our Saviour on the one hand, and Barabbas, a notorious malefactor, robber, and murderer, on the other; making sure that they would rather choose to have our Saviour released to them, in whom neither he nor they could find any crime, than Barabbas the worst of criminals. O eternal Son of God, how low dost thou here stoop for my sins, when thou sufferest thyself to he put in competition with the vilest and most wicked of men, and to have it put to the votes of the rabble which of the two is the more deserving of death! O the unparalleled humility of my Saviour! O the unparalleled injury here offered to him by Pilate, whilst he pretends to favour him! But O! the unparalleled blindness of this unhappy people who make choice of Barabbas before their Messias, and demand with loud cries that the former may be released, and the latter crucified! See, my soul, in this wonderful humiliation of thy Lord, how deep, how desperate was the wound of thy pride which could not be healed but by such and so great humility. Learn henceforward, at least from him, to be humble of heart and never think much if others how mean soever, be preferred before thee, since Barabbas was preferred before Christ! Alas! how often hast thou thyself preferred some thing worse than Barahbas, even that ugly monster sin, before this Lord of Glory.
Consider 2ndly, how the Jews still insisting in a tumultuous manner that our Lord should he crucified, Pilate in hopes of appeasing them by a kind of composition, and so making them relent, orders him to be cruelly scourged; a torment most grievous to our dear Redeemer, (who therefore on divers occasions, speaking of his Passion, takes special notice of it,) and at the same time most disgraceful and most ignominious. Look on now, my soul, in spirit, and see in what manner thy Saviour is treated for thee. See how the bloody executioners lay violent hands on the Lamb of God; see how they tear off his clothes, and expose him all naked before a great multitude, to cold and shame see how they bind him fast to a stony pillar; see how they discharge upon His sacred back, shoulders, and sides, innumerable stripes, lashes, and scourges; see how his body is all rent, torn, and mangled by their barbarity ; see how the blood comes spouting out on all sides. See in his gaping wounds, the handiwork of thy sins. O take pity on his mangled flesh, and let the sight of so much blood shed for thee mollify thy heart, and determine thee from this hour never any more to scourge him by sin. Run in now, and cast thyself at his feet, and bathe thyself in his precious blood; mingle, at least, some few tears with his sacred gore, and repent from thy heart for the share thou hast had in this scourging of thy Lord.
Consider 3rdly, in this scourging of our Saviour, who it is that is thus barbarously and ignominiously treated? And why he suffers all this? O my soul, ‘tis the God that made thee; ‘tis the Lord and Maker of heaven and earth who suffers all this, by his own free choice, for the love of thee; ‘tis to deliver thee by his sufferings, from the grievous and eternal torments thy sins have deserved, and to purchase for thee everlasting joys which thou never could’st deserve. O infinite love of my God ! O never suffer me, dearest Saviour, to forget what thou hast here endured for the love of me But see in what manner our Lord suffers all this barbarous usage – without resistance, without complaint, in silence, with a perfect resignation and conformity to the will of his Father, in perfect charity, praying for his enemies, whilst they stand by insulting over him and rejoicing at his torments. My soul, let us study well and learn these lessons of our suffering Redeemer.
Conclude to make the best acknowledgment thou art able of the love thy Saviour has shown thee in his sufferings, by a return of thanksgiving and love, and by a constant detestation of sin as his and thy mortal enemy, and the occasion of all his sufferings.