Jesus Is Led Before Pilate, the Roman Governor

Source: THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus,
TAN BOOKS, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1895


Meditation 1

EARLY in the morning, the high priests and ancients of the people again assemble and resolve to deliver Jesus up to the secular power, by consigning Him to Pontius Pilate, a Gentile, and the Governor of Judea.

1. The exterior of Jesus during this His third most painful journey.

   He is bound anew with cords and chains by order of the high priests, that Pilate may at once regard Him as a man guilty of death, and unworthy of being treated with clemency. Thus bound, our sweet Saviour is dragged by the inhuman Jews, who overwhelm Him with every species of insult, as the very worst of malefactors, before the tribunal of the governor. The streets are crowded, and new spectators throng in from every side to feast their eyes upon the prisoner. All rejoice, and all endeavor by bitter insults to share in the torture of the innocent malefactor. And among all this crowd watching and deriding Him, there is scarcely one man to be found who pities Him. My soul, contemplate this Man-God bound with heavy chains, His sacred face discolored and defiled with spittle, His head uncovered and bruised by the blows He has received, and His whole Divine Person outraged at every step by the most degrading insults. Contemplate the modesty and gravity of His demeanor, and behold how His sacred countenance is expressive of the most serene patience and meek humility. Thou canst not perceive there the slightest trace of vexation, sorrow, or anger.

   His strength is exhausted, He is sinking with fatigue, and bowed down beneath the ignominy of His situation, yet He hastens onward joyfully and serenely to deliver Himself up into the hands of Pilate, to be condemned to death. Oh, what charity, what mercy, what condescension, is Thine, my Jesus! And all for my sake! But oh, what lessons of virtue may I not draw from thy outward deportment on this occasion!

2. The interior of Jesus.

   He is thoroughly aware of all the evil intentions of His enemies, who are resolved to have Him put to death as a public malefactor; therefore we might naturally suppose that He would be thereby afflicted and filled with indignation; but, on the contrary, the calmness of His Heart remains undisturbed, and His appearance is that of a meek Lamb led to the slaughter. He sees that the Jews have unanimously conspired against Him through motives of malice and hatred, that there is not One man to stand by Him, and that all are afraid of speaking in His favor---still, our innocent Redeemer humbles Himself amid all His sufferings, as though He were really guilty. He hears the insulting words, the sharp sarcasms, and the atrocious calumnies with which every one of His enemies delights in assailing Him, and He offers all with fervent acts of charity to His Eternal Father in expiation of my sins. He permits His senses to feel the whole bitterness of His sufferings, but, at the same time, His soul is overflowing with joy that the day for which He has long sighed, and for which he has been waiting during the space of thirty-three years, to accomplish the work of my Redemption, is come at last. Compare your interior dispositions for one moment with those of Jesus. How great a difference do we behold between them! You can bear nothing willingly, like Jesus. You grieve, lament, are disturbed in spirit, and have not even sufficient fortitude to offer your slight trials to Jesus, who has suffered so much for love of you. When will you profit by the example of Jesus?

3. Jesus before Pilate.

   The Jews might have put Jesus to death secretly, and thus satiated their feelings of hatred and envy, but they are desirous of appearing innocent of His death: they wish that He should die, but not that the odium of His death should be imputed to them. They therefore conduct Him to Pilate, that he may pronounce the sentence of condemnation, and, without entering into his palace, they loudly call upon him to condemn to death the malefactor whom they have brought loaded with chains before his tribunal. Pilate, from his house, beholds our blessed Jesus advancing toward Him with the utmost meekness and humility of demeanor, and he perceives how He is almost visibly surrounded by a halo of innocence. The Jews well know the perfect innocence of Jesus, and still, with senseless fury, clamorously demand His death. A hundred times have they received proofs of His goodness; over and over again has He been to them a loving benefactor, and now they are seeking only to have Him put to death as the worst of malefactors. Let not your anger be kindled against the Jews, but against yourself, for whenever you have committed sin your crime has been far greater than theirs, in outraging your Benefactor, your Father, and your God. You knew what you were doing; you believed in Jesus, and yet sinned!

   Meanwhile, Jesus stands before the governor in humble silence, surrounded by His enemies, and is desirous of giving an example of patience rather than of proving His innocence. Oh, how instructive is His silence!


   When tempted to commit sin, and to offend Jesus, answer the devil, the world, and your own passions, in the words of Pilate to the Jews when they presented Christ before his tribunal: "What accusation bring you against this man? What evil has Jesus done to me that I should offend Him? Has He deserved to be offended? Ought I to hate Him who has so much loved me?" If you direct all your efforts to the acquisition of the interior virtues of meekness, mildness, and humility of heart, you will find no difficulty in the practice of other, exterior virtues.


    The remembrance of the Passion of Jesus detaches the soul from worldly vanities. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, having entered a church one festival day to assist at the Divine office, dressed in her royal robes, and attended by a large retinue of servants, cast her eyes upon a Crucifix, and at that sight her heart immediately smote her. "Behold thy Creator," said an inward voice, "thy Redeemer, thy God, who for love of thee hangs naked on a Cross, and suffers the most disgraceful of deaths, and thou, a wretched creature, art clothed in vain attire and costly ornaments. The head of Jesus is crowned with thorns, and thine with flowers and jewels. Thus, then, dost thou imitate thy Master, thus dost thou follow His example!" So deeply was she touched and overcome by these reflections that she turned pale, and fell trembling and fainting to the ground where she remained for some time, until revived by the care of her attendants.

Meditation 2


PILATE being well aware of the malice of the Jews, and that they are seeking the death of Jesus solely to satiate their hatred and envy, asks them what accusations they bring against Him to form the subject of examination.

1. The falsity of the accusations brought against Jesus.

   He is accused of being a seditious, turbulent man; and yet on no subject has He preached with so much zeal as on those relating to subordination, obedience and humility. In all His discourses He has inculcated no virtues with more ardor than meekness, submission and love of enemies. He is accused of having forbidden tribute to be paid to Caesar. But what dark malice must have suggested so odious a calumny to oppress His innocence, for His enemies are well aware that Christ paid the tribute for Himself and for St. Peter! Be consoled, O you who are disciples of Jesus, whenever you are treated as was your Divine Master. You will resemble Him, if your enemies resemble His in their calumnies. The third accusation produced against Jesus, as involving a most heinous crime, is that He sought to make Himself king, and yet he never affected the outward appearance, or bore the insignia of one! His deportment has always been humble, submissive and simple, and whenever the people attempted to proclaim Him king, He always fled and concealed Himself. Oh, how many calumnies are invented by the perfidious Jews for the sake of depriving our most innocent Saviour of His honor and life! In the meantime, what is the demeanor of Jesus on beholding Himself thus falsely accused? He humbles Himself, and is silent. He loves these humiliations, and willingly embraces them to satisfy for our pride. Can anyone contemplate a Man-God thus unjustly calumniated before a public tribunal, and not willingly submit to a slight aspersion upon his own reputation and innocence?

2. The humility of Jesus throughout His examination.

   The governor, having returned into his audience-chamber, summons Jesus into his presence, that he may examine His case in private, and with proper gravity, apart from any tumult. He takes his seat as judge in his tribunal, and questions Him, urging Him over and over again to answer and declare who and what He is. Represent to yourself Jesus Christ standing as a criminal, with His hands bound, and head bent downwards, before a profane idolater, to be judged by him. So profoundly does Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Glory, the Judge of the Universe, humble Himself! For three years He has been preaching humility, and on this occasion, He preaches it more loudly and efficaciously still, by His own example. Jesus Christ, having replied to Pilate in a few words full of heavenly wisdom, so as to refute all the accusations brought against Him, maintains a profound mysterious silence. The high priests grow warm in the repetition of their exaggerated calumnies, and the governor urges Him to prove His innocence. The preservation of His good name, and even of life, seems now to call for self-defense. Nothing could be more easy than for Jesus to prove His innocence, and confound His enemies, and yet He is silent. He holds His peace because His enemies are not worthy again to hear His voice. He holds His peace, to teach us by His own example how to be silent and humble in adversity. He holds His peace, because He is not desirous of being set at liberty---because He is only sighing for the moment when He is to die for me. Oh, charity of my Jesus! Can I ever sufficiently praise Thee or worthily love Thee?

3. The innocence of Jesus proclaimed by the judge.

    Pilate, having examined the cause of Jesus, finds Him innocent, and publicly declares that here is no guilt in Him. Our blessed Lord has been presented before three different tribunals, and in each His innocence has been found unsullied. And yet He is treated as a criminal and sentenced to punishment. Jesus is perfectly innocent, even by sentence of His judges; Jesus has done nought but good, and nevertheless He vouchsafes to subject Himself to punishment, as though He were the worst of malefactors, and I who am guilty of so many sins, will not accept the slight penance of some little shame or suffering which Divine Justice inflicts upon me by the instrumentality of others. I have so many times deserved Hell on account of the innumerable sins which I have committed against my God. I am perfectly convinced and persuaded of this truth, and yet I cannot bear any trial sent me by Our Lord in expiation of my sins! How different is my conduct from Thine, O my Jesus! In Thy Passion Thou dost expiate faults not Thy own, and in all Thy sufferings I am ever present to Thy mind; while I have not courage to punish myself for my own sins, which have cost Thee so much, because I do not keep Thee, the Great Example of patience and penance, before my eyes.

The Fruit

   Determine to love sincerely all those who calumniate or speak ill of you, making a sacrifice of all desires of vengeance to Jesus Christ. Learn from the example of Jesus to be silent on those occasions when it would be lawful or advantageous for you to speak in your own defense, and do this for the love of Him. Offer to God as a penance for your sins all the trials of this life, declaring your readiness to accept anything from the hands of God.


   Saint Peter Martyr, a friar of the order of Preachers, being falsely accused to his superior of a heinous crime, and on that account severely rebuked and penanced, preserved an humble silence, and submitted with heroic resignation to the punishment inflicted on him. Now it happened one night while he was praying before his Crucifix that he began to reflect upon his innocence, and how he had been unjustly accused and penanced, so that his heart heaved with sorrow, and he sighed deeply, exclaiming to Jesus Crucified, with a view to give vent to his grief, "O Lord, Thou knowest my innocence, and why hast Thou permitted that calumny should prevail against me, and that I should be so unjustly treated?" Then Jesus answered from the Crucifix, "And what have I done, O Peter; to deserve to be thus nailed to a Cross? Learn from my example, to suffer with patience." These sweet words made the heart of the sorrowing Saint bound with joy, and inspired him with constancy and courage in suffering any tribulation for the love of his Crucified Jesus.