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WITH SUITABLE PRAYERS AND OFFICES OF DEVOTION.
BY J. RAMBACH, D. D.
LATE OF THE UNIVERSITY OF GIESSEN.
BEFORE THE CIVIL TRIBUNAL OF PILALE AND
THE GOOD CONFESSION WHICH CHRIST MADE CONCERNING HIS KINGDOM BEFORE PONTIUS PILATE THE ROMAN GOVERNOR.
'JESUS answered, my kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: But now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, art thou a king then? Jesus answered, thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness into the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth my voice,' (John xviii. 6, 37.)
We have before observed, that the point concerning Christ's kingdom was under examination before the civil tribunal of Pilate. For the high Priests and Elders having accused our blessed Saviour of pretending to be a king, Pilate questioned him about that particular, and asked him, art thou the king of the Jews? But our blessed Lord, before he returned a direct answer to this question, put a previous ques tion to Pilate, in order to learn what idea he had annexed to this title, the king of the Jews. Accordingly Jesus said unto Pilate, Sayest thou this of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me?' Pilate, in
deed, seems to have resented this answer, and by another question, viz. What hast thou done?' was for putting the cause on another issue. But our blessed Saviour keeps to the essential point; and answering Pilates former question in the words which we have cited above, makes a good confession of the true nature of his kingdom.
This he does with the greatest wisdom, discretion, and foresight; so that in the first place, according to the idea which Pilate had conceived of the accusation, namely that a temporal king was therein meant, he answers the question in the negative. But on the contrary, with regard to the sense which the title of king of the Jews bears in the writings of the prophets, his answer is affirmative. By this our blessed Lord has set his suffering members a pattern of wisdom and prudence, and shews how to make proper distinctions in answering intricate, ambiguous, and ensnaring questions.
Hence it appears that this good confession of Christ concerning his kingdom consists of two parts.
In the first part of his confession, Jesus rectifies the false notion that Pilate had formed of his kingdom, and gives him to understand, that he is no temporal king.
In the second, he explains the true nature of his kingdom, and shews that he is a spiritual king.
I. In the first part of our Saviour's wise and good confession, wherein he rectifies the false idea which Pilate had of his kingdom, we may observe these three particulars.
First, He confesses that he really has a kingdom; for he expressly mentions it no less than three times in these words: 'My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world—but now my kingdom is not from hence.' With what right our blessed Lord makes this declaration, and his motives to it, we shall shew from the second part of his confession.