Portion of Homily LXXXIII.
Ver. 33, 34. "Having entered in, he asked Jesus, and said, Art thou
the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself,
or did others tell it thee of Me?"
Wherefore did Christ ask this? Because He desired to expose the evil
intentions of the Jews. Pilate had heard this saying from many, and, since
the accusers had nothing to say, in order that the enquiry might not be
a long one, he desires to bring forward that which was continually reported.
But when he said to them, "Judge him according to your law," wishing to
show that His offense was not a Jewish one, they replied, "It is not lawful
for us." "He hath not sinned against our law, but the indictment is general."
Pilate then, having perceived this, saith, as being (himself) likely to
be endangered, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" Then Jesus, not from ignorance,
but from a desire that the Jews should be accused even by him, asked him,
saying, "Did others tell it thee?" On this point then declaring himself,
Ver. 35. "Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have
delivered thee unto me; what hast thou done?"
Here desiring to clear himself of the matter. Then because he had said,
"Art thou the King?" Jesus reproving him answereth, "This thou hast heard
from the Jews. Why dost thou not make accurate enquiry? They have said
that I am a malefactor; ask them what evil I have done. But this thou doest
not, but art simply framing charges against Me." "Jesus answered him, Sayest
thou this thing of thyself," or from others? Pilate then cannot at once
say that he had heard it, but simply goes along with the people, saying,
"They have delivered thee unto me." "I must needs therefore ask thee what
thou hast done." What then saith Christ?
Ver. 36. "My Kingdom is not of this world."
He leadeth upwards Pilate who was not a very wicked man, nor after their
fashion, and desireth to show that He is not a mere man, but God and the
Son of God And what saith He?
"If My Kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight,
that I should not be delivered to the Jews."
He undoeth that which Pilate for a while had feared, namely, the suspicion
of seizing kingly power, "Is then His kingdom not of this world also?"
Certainly it is. "How then saith He it `is not'?" Not because He doth not
rule here, but because He hath his empire from above, and because it is
not human, but far greater than this and more splendid. "If then it be
greater, how was He made captive by the other?" By consenting, and giving
Himself up. But He doth not at present reveal this, but what saith He?
"If I had been of this world, `My servants would fight, that I should not
be delivered.'" Here He showeth the weakness of kingship among us, that
its strength lies in servants; but that which is above is sufficient for
itself, needing nothing. From this the heretics taking occasion say, that
He is different from the Creator. What then, when it saith, "He came to
His own"? (c. i. 11.) What, when Himself saith, "They are not of this world,
as I am not of this world"? (c. xvii. 14.) So also He saith that His kingdom
is not from hence, not depriving the world of His providence and superintendence,
but showing, as I said, that His power was not human or perishable. What
then said Pilate?
Ver. 37. "Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that
I am a King. To this end was I born."
If then He was born a king, all His other attributes are by Generation,
and He hath nothing which He received in addition. So that when thou hearest
that, "As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son
also to have life" (c. v. 26), deem of nothing else but His generation,
and so of the rest.
"And for this cause came I, that I should bear witness unto the truth."
That is, "that I should speak this very thing, and teach it, and persuade
[5.] But do thou, O man, when thou hearest these things, and seest thy
Lord bound and led about, deem present things to be nought. For how can
it be otherwise than strange, if Christ bore such things for thy sake,
and thou often canst not endure even words? He is spit upon, and dost thou
deck thyself with garments and rings, and, if thou gain not good report
from all, think life unbearable? He is insulted, beareth mockings, and
scornful blows upon the cheek; and dost thou wish everywhere to be honored,
and bearest thou not the reproaching of Christ? Hearest thou not Paul saying,
"Be ye imitators of me, even as I also am of Christ"?(1 Cor. xi. 1.) When
therefore any one makes a jest of thee, remember thy Lord, that in mockery
they bowed the knee before Him, and worried Him both by words and deeds,
and treated Him with much irony; but He not only did not defend Himself,
but even repaid them with the contraries, with mildness and gentleness.
Him now let us emulate; so shall we be enabled even to be delivered from
all insult. For it is not the insulter that gives effect to acts of insult,
and makes them biting, but he who is little of soul, and is pained by them.
If thou art not pained, thou hast not been insulted; for the suffering
from injuries depends not on those who inflict, but on those who undergo
them. Why dost thou grieve at all? If a man hath insulted thee unjustly,
in this case surely thou oughtest not to grieve at all, but to pity him;
if justly, much more oughtest thou to keep quiet. For should any one address
thee, a poor man, as though thou wert rich, the praise contained in his
words is nothing to thee, but his encomium is rather mockery; and so if
one insulting thee utter things that are untrue, the reproach is nothing
to thee either. But if conscience takes hold of what hath been said, be
not grieved at the words, but make correction in deeds. This I say with
regard to what really are insults. For if one reproach thee with poverty
or low birth, laugh at him. These things are a reproach not to the hearer,
but to the speaker, as not knowing true wisdom. "But," saith some one,
"when these things are said in the presence of many who are ignorant of
the truth, the wound becomes unbearable." Nay, it is most bearable, when
you have an audience present of witnesses praising and applauding you,
scoffing at and making a jest of him. For not he that defends himself,
but he that saith nothing, is applauded by sensible persons. And if none
of those present be a sensible person, then laugh at him most of all, and
delight thyself in the audience of heaven. For there all will praise and
applaud and welcome thee. For one Angel is as good as all the world. But
why speak I of Angels, when the Lord Himself proclaimeth thee? Let us exercise
ourselves with these reasonings. For it is no loss to be silent when insulted,
but it is, on the contrary, to defend one's self when insulted. Since were
it a fault silently to bear what is said, Christ would never have told
us, "If one smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also."
(Matt. v. 39.) If then our enemy say what is not true, let us on this account
even pity him, because he draws down upon him the punishment and vengeance
of the accusers, being unworthy even to read the Scriptures. For to the
sinner God saith, "Why declarest thou My statutes, and takest My covenant
in thy mouth? Thou satest and spakest against thy brother." (Ps. l. 16
and Ps. l. 20 LXX.) And if he speak the truth, so also he is to be pitied;
since even the Pharisee spake the truth; yet he did no harm to him who
heard him, but rather good, while he deprived himself of ten thousand blessings,
enduring shipwreck by this accusation, So that either way it is he that
suffers injury, not thou; but thou, if thou art sober, wilt have double
gain; both the propitiating God by thy silence, and the becoming yet more
discreet, the gaining an opportunity from what hath been said to correct
what has been done, and the despising mortal glory. For this is the source
of our pain, that many gape upon the opinion of men. If we are minded to
be thus truly wise, we shall know well that human things are nothing. Let
us learn then, and having reckoned up our faults, let us accomplish their
correction in time, and let us determine to correct one this month, another
next month, and a third in that which follows. And so mounting as it were
by steps, let us get to heaven by a Jacob's ladder. For the ladder seems
to me to signify in a riddle by that vision the gradual ascent by means
of virtue, by which it is possible for us to ascend from earth to heaven,
not using material steps, but improvement and correction of manners. Let
us then lay hold on this means of departure and ascent, that having obtained
heaven, we may also enjoy all the blessings there, through the grace and
loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and