The scene between the Christ and Pilate is one of the most interesting in the entire drama. The Roman evidently regards him as an innocent and unoffending dreamer. But when the prisoner utters the words: "My kingdom is not of this world. . . . To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth." Pilate looks at him, as though there flashed upon his mind the possibility of something deeper in his thoughts than he has yet believed; and he gives utterance to that well-known phrase (echoed, alas! throughout the ages by all thoughtful men) "Was ist Wahr-heit?", [What is truth?]
At this moment a servant is seen making his way to the proconsul, asserting that he has an important message for him from his wife.
Pilate bids him approach.
"What word dost thou bring me from my beloved wife?" he asks.
The servant answers: "She begs of thee most earnestly to have nothing to do with the just man now standing at thy judgment-seat, for she has suffered many things in a dream because of him." Pilate makes a gesture, as though confirmed in his secret determination.
"Return," he replies, "and tell her she need not fear on this account. I will do all in my power to release him."
Then turning to the priests, he asks: "Did you not say this prisoner was from Galilee?"
"Yes," answer many voices, "he comes from Nazareth. He is a Nazarene."
"In that case," exclaims Pilate joyfully, "this is not my affair. Herod has come from Galilee to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. Conduct the prisoner, therefore, to his proper judge."
With these words he retires, while the priests, furious at this new delay, are forced to lead their victim to a new tribunal, -the judgment-hall of Herod. There, surrounded by a few courtiers and some Jewish priests, still trembling with excitement, we see upon the throne a man who evidently looks on Jesus as demented, and wishes to have sport at his expense. To all his jests, however, Maier returns, not a word, but stands in statue-like repose, as though his thoughts were far away. Herod finally becomes offended at this reticence, and orders him to be clad in a royal robe, and shown to the people in mockery as a "king;" and when the priests clamor for a serious decision, he replies: "My judgment is, that the man is a fool, incapable of committing the crimes which you have laid to his charge." Then, dismissing the council, he exclaims to his courtiers: "Come, let us make up for this lost time with wine and song!"
Christ Bearing The Cross. (Raphael).
Again, therefore, the uncomplaining prisoner is led to Pilate, who once more steps forth upon his balcony. The scene which follows is intensely exciting. The multitude numbers several hundred men, who move and speak in perfect unison, and seem the very embodiment of bigotry and hatred. Pilate perceives that Jesus is the victim of an unreasonable and infuriated mob. All now depends on his firmness. He evidently does not like to give him up to death, regarding such a course as mean and cowardly. He therefore adopts another plan of rescue, by ordering the thief, Barabbas, to be brought before him from his dungeon. When he appears, the Roman looks upon this grisly, repulsive man, and smiles, believing that he has solved the problem.
Maier Before Pilate.
The Judgment-Hall Of Herod.
Maier Before Herod.
"Men of Jerusalem," he cries, "you know it is my custom at this festival to set at liberty a prisoner. I now intend, as usual, to do so. This man, Barabbas, is a murderer. The other prisoner here is one against whom I can find no cause for condemnation whatsoever. Which of them will you, then, that I release?" The answer comes at once from priests and populace alike: