The Crown of Thorns
Matthew xxvi: 57,
to xxvii: 26;
Mark xv: 1 to 15;
Luke xxii: 66, to
John xviii: 19, to xix: 16.
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 against you?"
But Jesus stood silent, answering nothing. Then the
high-priest spoke again, "Are you the Christ, the
Son of God?"
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 like these?"
They all said, with one voice, "He deserves to be
put to death!"
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!"
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 died.
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 blood."
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 Blood."
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 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 not here."
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
"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 this man."
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. 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
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
Then Pilate said, "What, then, shall I do with
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
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
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 this man!"
But again the cry arose, "Crucify him! Send him to
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 cross.