THE CROWN OF THORNS
Matthew xxvi: 57, to xxvii: 26; Mark xv: 1 to 15; Luke xxii: 66, to xxiii: 25; John xviii: 19, to xix: 16.
ROM the house of Annas the enemies of Jesus led him away
bound to the house of Caiaphas, whom the Romans had
lately made high-priest. There all the rulers of the
Jews were called together, and they tried to find men
who would swear that they had heard Jesus say some
wicked thing. This would give the rulers an excuse for
putting Jesus to death. But they could find nothing.
Some men swore one thing, and some swore another; but
their words did not agree.
Finally the high-priest stood up, and said to Jesus,
who stood bound in the middle of the hall, "Have you
nothing to say? What is it that these men are speaking
But Jesus stood silent, answering nothing. Then the
high-priest spoke again, "Are you the Christ, the Son
And Jesus said, "I am; and the time shall come when you
will see the Son of man sitting on the throne of power
and coming in the clouds of heaven!"
These words made the high-priest very angry. He said to
the rulers, "Do you hear these dreadful words? He says
that he is the Son of God. What do you think of words
They all said, with one voice, "He deserves to be put
Then the servants of the high-priest and the soldiers
that held Jesus began to mock him. They spat on him,
and they covered his face, and struck him with their
hands, and said, "If you are a prophet, tell who it is
that is striking you!"
The rulers of the Jews and the priests and the scribes
passed a vote that Jesus should be put to death. But
the land of the Jews was then ruled by the Romans, and
no man could be put to death
 unless the Roman governor commanded it. The Roman
governor at that time was a man named Pontius Pilate,
and he was then in the city. So all the rulers and a
great crowd of people came to Pilate's castle, bringing
with them Jesus, who was still bound with cords.
Up to this time Judas Iscariot, although he had
betrayed Jesus, did not believe that he would be put to
death. Perhaps he thought that Jesus would save himself
from death, as he had saved others, by some wonderful
work. But when he saw Jesus bound and beaten, and doing
nothing to protect himself, and when he heard the
rulers vote that Jesus should be put to death, Judas
knew how wicked was the deed that he had wrought. He
brought back the
 thirty pieces of silver that had been given to him as
the reward for betraying his Lord, and he said, "I have
sinned in betraying one who has done no wrong!"
JUDAS RETURNS THE SILVER TO THE PRIESTS
But they answered him, "What is that to us? You look
When Judas saw that they would not take back the money
and let Jesus go free, he carried the thirty pieces to
the Temple, and threw them down on the floor. Then he
went away and hanged himself. And thus the traitor
After that the rulers scarcely knew what to do with the
money. They said, "We cannot put it into the treasury
of the Temple, because it is the price paid for a man's
And when they had talked together, they used it in
buying a piece of ground called "the potter's field."
This they set apart as a place for burying strangers
who died in the city and had no friends. But every one
in Jerusalem spoke of that place as "The Field of
It was very early in the morning when the rulers of the
Jews brought Jesus to Pilate. They would not go into
Pilate's hall, because Pilate was not of their nation;
and Pilate came out to them, and asked them, "What
charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered, "If he were not an evil-doer, we would
not have brought him to you."
Pilate did not wish to be troubled, and he said, "Take
him away, and judge him by your own law!"
The Jews said to Pilate, "We are not allowed to put any
man to death, and we have brought him to you. We have
found this man teaching evil, and telling men not to
pay taxes to the Emperor Caesar, and saying that he
himself is Christ, a king."
Then Pilate went into his court-room, and sent for
Jesus; and when he looked at Jesus, he said, "Are you
the King of the Jews? Your own people have brought you
to me. What have you done?"
JESUS BROUGHT BEFORE PILATE
Jesus said to him, "My kingdom is not of this world. If
it were of this world, then those who serve me would
fight to save me from my enemies. But now my kingdom is
Pilate said, "Are you a king, then?"
Jesus answered him, "You have spoken it. I am a king.
For this was I born, and for this I came into the
world, that I might speak the truth of God to men."
 "Truth," said Pilate, "What is truth?"
Then, without waiting for an answer, Pilate went out to
the rulers and the crowd, and said, "I find no evil in
Pilate thought that Jesus was a harmless man, but
perhaps one whose mind was weak, and he could see no
reason why the rulers and the people should be so
bitter against him. But they cried out all the more,
saying, "He stirs up the people everywhere, from
Galilee even to this place."
When Pilate heard the word "Galilee," he asked if this
man had come from that land. They told him that he had;
and then Pilate said, "Galilee and its people are under
the rule of Herod. He has come up to Jerusalem, and I
will send this man to him."
So, from Pilate's court-room, Jesus was sent, still
bound, to Herod's palace. This was the Herod who had
put John the Baptist in prison, and had given his head
to a dancing-girl, as we read in Story 127.
Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for
 he had heard many things about him; and he hoped to see
him do some wonderful thing. But Jesus would not work
wonders as a show, to be looked at; and when Herod
asked him many questions, Jesus would not speak a word.
Herod would not judge Jesus, for he knew that Jesus had
done nothing wrong; so he and his soldiers mocked
Jesus, and dressed him in a gay robe, as though he were
a make-believe king, and sent him back to Pilate.
So Pilate, much against his will, was compelled to
decide either for Jesus or against him. And just as
Jesus was standing bound before him a message came to
Pilate from his wife, saying, "Do nothing against that
good man; for in this night I have suffered many things
in a dream on account of him."
Pilate said to the Jews, "You have brought this man to
me as one who is leading the people to evil; and I have
seen that there is no evil in him, nor has Herod; now I
will order that he be beaten with rods, and then set
free. For you know that it is the custom to set a
prisoner free at the time of the feast."
They set some prisoner free, as a sign of the joy at
the feast. And at that time there was in the prison a
man named Barabbas, who was a robber and a murderer.
Pilate said to the people, "Shall I set free Jesus, who
is called the King of the Jews?"
But the rulers went among the people and urged them to
ask for Barabbas to be set free.
And the crowd cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas!"
Then Pilate said, "What, then, shall I do with Jesus?"
And they all cried out, "Crucify him! Let him die on
Pilate wished greatly to spare the life of Jesus. To
show how he felt, he sent for water, and he washed his
hands before all the people, saying, "My hands are
clean from the blood of this good man!"
And they cried out, "Let his blood be on us, and on our
children after us! Crucify him! Send him to the cross!"
Then Pilate, to please the people, gave them what they
asked. He set free Barabbas, the man of their choice,
though he was a robber and a murderer; but before
giving way to the cry that he should send Jesus to the
cross, he tried once more to save his life. He caused
Jesus to be beaten until the blood came upon him,
hoping that this might satisfy the people. As Jesus was
spoken of as a
 king, the soldiers who beat Jesus made a crown of
thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a
purple robe, such as was worn by kings, and bowing down
before him they called out to him, "Hail, King of the
Then, hoping to awaken some pity for Jesus, Pilate
brought him out to the people, with the crown of thorns
and the purple robe upon him, and Pilate said, "Look on
But again the cry arose, "Crucify him! Send him to the
And at last Pilate yielded to the voice of the people.
He sat down on the judgment-seat, and gave commands
that Jesus, whom he knew to be a good man, one who had
done nothing evil, should be put to death upon the
\LOOK ON THIS MAN."