Luke 23:23
(23) They were instant.--Literally, they pressed upon Him. As the adjective is almost passing into the list of obsolescent words, it may be well to remind the reader that it has the force of "urgent." So we have "instant in prayer" (Romans 12:12), "be instant in season, out of season" (2Timothy 4:2).

And of the chief priests.--The words are omitted in many of the best MSS.

Verse 23. - And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. The Roman governor now found that all his devices to liberate Jesus with the consent and approval of the Jews were fruitless. After the clamour which resulted in the release of Barabbas had ceased, the terrible cry, "Crucify him!" was raised among that fickle crowd. Pilate was determined to carry out his threat of scourging the Innocent. That might satisfy them, perhaps excite their pity. Something whispered to him that he would be wise if he refrained from staining his life with the blood of that strange quiet Prisoner. St. Luke omits here the "scourging;" the mock-homage of the soldiers; the scarlet robe and the crown of thorns; the last appeal to pity when Pilate produced the pale, bleeding Sufferer with the words, "Ecce Homo!" the last solemn interview of Pilate and Jesus, related by St. John; the sustained clamour of the people for the blood of the Sinless. "Then he delivered Jesus to their will" (ver. 25). (See Matthew 27, Mark 15, and John 19, for these details, omitted in St. Luke.) Of the omitted details, the most important piece in connection with the "last things" is the recital by St. John of the examination of Jesus by Pilate in the Praetorium. None of the Sanhedrists or strict Jews, we have noticed, were present at these interrogatories. They, we read, entered not into the judgment-hall of Pilate, lest they might be defiled, and so be precluded from eating the Passover Feast. St. John, however, who appears to have been the most fearless of the "eleven," and who besides evidently had friends among the Sanhedrin officials, was clearly present at these examinations. He too, we are aware, had eaten his Passover the evening before, and therefore had no defilement to fear. The first interrogatories have been already alluded to, in the course of which the question, "Art thou a King, then?" was put by Pilate, and the famous reflection by the Roman, "What is truth?" was made. Then followed the "sending to Herod;" the return of the Prisoner from Herod; the offer of release, which ended in the choice by the people of Barabbas. The scourging of the prisoner Jesus followed. This was a horrible punishment. The condemned person was usually stripped and fastened to a pillar or stake, and then scourged with leather throngs tipped with leaden balls or sharp spikes. The effects, described by Romans, and Christians in the 'Martyrdoms,' were terrible. Not only the muscles of the back, but the breast, the face, the eyes, were torn; the very entrails were laid bare, the anatomy was exposed, and the sufferer, convulsed with torture, was often thrown down a bloody heap at the feet of the judge. In our Lord's case this punishment, though not proceeding to the awful consequences described in some of the 'Martyrologies,' must have been very severe: this is evident from his sinking under the cross, and from the short time which elapsed before his death upon it. "Recent investigations at Jerusalem have disclosed what may have been the scene of the punishment. In a subterranean chamber, discovered by Captain Warren, on what Mr. Fergusson holds to be the site of Antonia - Pilate's Praetorium - stands a truncated column, no part of the construction, for the chamber is vaulted above the pillar, but just such a pillar as criminals would be tied to to be scourged" (Dr. Westcott). After the cruel scourging came the mocking by the Roman soldiers. They threw across the torn and mangled shoulders one of those scarlet cloaks worn by the soldiers themselves - a coarse mockery of the royal mantle worn by a victorious general. They pressed down on his temples a crown or wreath, imitating what they had probably seen the emperor wear in the form of laurel wreath - Tiberius's wreath of laurel was seen upon his arms (Suetonius, 'Tiberius,' c. 17). The crown was made, as an old tradition represents it, of the Zizyphus Christi, the nubk of the Arabs, a plant which is found in all the warmer parts of Palestine and about Jerusalem. The thorns are numerous and sharp, and the flexible twigs well adapted for the purpose (Tristram, 'Natural History of the Bible,' p. 429). "The representations in the great pictures of the Italian painters probably come very near the truth" ('Speaker's Commentary'). In his right hand they placed a reed to simulate a sceptre, and before this sad, woebegone Figure "they bowed the knee, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!" Hase ('Geschichte Jesu,' p. 573) is even moved to say, "There is some comfort in the fact that, even in the midst of the mockery, the truth made itself felt. Herod recognizes his innocence by a white robe; the Roman soldiery his royalty by the sceptre and the crown of thorns, and that has become the highest of all crowns, as was fitting, being the most meritorious." It was then and thus that Pilate led Jesus out before the Sanhedrists and the people, as they shouted in their unreasoning fury, "Crucify him!" while the Roman, partly sadly, partly scornfully, partly pitifully, as he pointed to the silent Sufferer by his side, pronounced "Ecce Homo!" But the enemies of Jesus were pitiless. They kept on crying, "Crucify him!" and when Pilate still demurred carrying out their bloody purpose, they added that "by their Law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." All through that morning's exciting scenes had Pilate seen that something strange and mysterious belonged to that solitary Man accused before him. His demeanour, his words, his very look, had impressed the Roman with a singular awe. Then came his wife's message, telling him of her dream, warning her husband to have nothing to do with that just Man. Everything seemed to whisper to him," Do not let that strange, innocent Prisoner be done to death: he is not what he seems." And now the fact, openly published by the furious Jews, that the poor Accused claimed a Divine origin, deepened the awe. Who, then, had he been scourging? Once more Pilate returns to his judgment-hall, and he says to Jesus, again standing before him, "Whence art thou?" The result of this last interrogatory St. John (John 19:12)briefly summarizes in the words, "From thenceforth Pilate sought to release him." The Sanhedrists, and their blind instruments, the fickle, wavering multitude, when they perceived the Roman governor's intention to release their Victim, changed their tactics. They forbore any longer to press the old charges of blasphemy and of indefinite wrong-doing, and they appealed only to Pilate's own dastardly fears. The Prisoner claimed to be a King. If the lieutenant of the emperor let such a traitor go free, why, that lieutenant emphatically was not Caesar's friend! Such a plea for the Sanhedrin to use before a Roman tribunal, to ask for death to be inflicted on a Jew because he had injured the majesty of Rome, was a deep degradation; but the Sanhedrin well knew the temper of the Roman judge with whom they had to deal, and they rightly calculated that his fears for himself, if properly aroused, would turn the scale and secure the condemnation of Jesus. They were right.

23:13-25 The fear of man brings many into this snare, that they will do an unjust thing, against their consciences, rather than get into trouble. Pilate declares Jesus innocent, and has a mind to release him; yet, to please the people, he would punish him as an evil-doer. If no fault be found in him, why chastise him? Pilate yielded at length; he had not courage to go against so strong a stream. He delivered Jesus to their will, to be crucified.And they were instant with loud voices,.... They were urgent, and insisted upon his crucifixion, and pressed hard for it, and exerted their voices, and more loudly called:

requiring him, that he might be crucified: desiring it in the most importunate manner; signifying, that it must be, that nothing else would content them:

and the voices of them, and the chief priests, prevailed; upon Pilate to grant their request, contrary to the dictates of his own conscience, the conduct of Herod, and the message of his wife; the people being set on by the chief priests, and the chief priests joining with them, their numbers were so great, and their requests were pressed with so much force, and violence, and importunity, that Pilate could not withstand them.

Luke 23:22
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