28.Then they lead Jesus. That trial, which the Evangelist mentions, took place before daybreak; and yet there can be no doubt, that they had their bellows at work throughout the whole of the city to inflame the people. Thus the rage of the people was suddenly kindled, as if all, with one consent, demanded that Christ should be put to death, Now, the trial was conducted by the priests, not that they had it in their power to pronounce a sentence, but that, after having excited a prejudice against him by their previous decislon, they might deliver him to the governor, as if he had already been fully tried. (146) The Romans gave the name Praetorium both to the governor’ house or palace, (147) and to the judgment-seat, where he was wont to decide causes.
That they might not be defiled. In abstaining from all defilement, that, being purified according to the injunction of the Law, they may eat the Lord’ Passover, their religion, in this respect, deserves commendation. But there are two faults, and both of them are very heinous. The first is, (148) they do not consider that they carry more pollution within their hearts, than they can contract by entering any place however profane; and the second is, they carry to excess their care about smaller matters, and neglect what is of the highest importance.
To the defiled and to unbelievers, says Paul, nothing is pure;
because their minds are polluted,
But these hypocrites, though they are so full of malice, ambition, fraud, cruelty, and avarice, that they ahnost infect heaven and earth with their abominable smell, are only afraid of external pollutions. So then it is an intolerable mockery, that they expect to please God, provided that they do not contract defilement by touching some unclean thing, though they have disregarded true purity.
Another fault connected with hypocrisy is, that, while it is careful in performing ceremonies, it makes no scruple of neglecting matters of the highest importance; for God enjoined on the Jews those ceremonies which are contained in the Law, for no other reason, than that they might be habituated to the love and practice of true holiness. Besides, no part of the Law forbade them to enter into the house of a Gentile, but it was a precaution derived from the traditions of the fathers, that no person might, through oversight, contract any pollution from an unclean house. But those venerable expounders of the Law, while they carefully strain at a gnat, swallow the camel (149) without any hesitation, (Mat_23:24;) and it is usual with hypocrites to reckon it a greater crime to kill a flea than to kill a man. This fault is closely allied to the other, of greatly preferring the traditions of men to the holy commandments of God. In order that they may eat the passover in a proper manner, they wish to keep themselves pure; but they suppose uncleanness to be confined within the wails of the governor’ house, and yet they do not hesitate, while heaven and earth are witnesses, to pursue an innocent person to death. In short, they observe the shadow of the passover with a false and pretended reverence, and yet not only do they violate the true passover by sacrilegious hands, but endeavor, as far as lies in their power, to bury it in eternal oblivion, (150)
(146) “Mals a fin de livrer au juge, etant desja charge, et comme suffisamentconveincu par leur premiere cognoissance et les interrogatoires qu’ luy avoient faites;” — “ to deliver him to the judge as a person already accused, and as having been sufficiently convicted by their previous trial, and by the questions which they had put to him.”
(147) “La maison ou palais du gouverneur ”
(148) “La premiere fkute est.”
(149) See Harmony of the Evangelists, vol. 3 page 93.
(150) “De la ruiner et en abolir la memoire a jamais.”