The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Son Jesus; whom you delivered up…
I. THE VINDICATION OF CHRISTIANITY FROM A JEWISH STANDPOINT. "The God of Abraham," etc., not God generally considered, but God in relations acknowledged by the Jews — the God of Abraham, as such, had glorified Jesus. If this were the case, then Judaism was logically at an end. The God of Abraham, in a sense, had glorified Moses, and had so terminated the patriarchal dispensation, which every good Jew would acknowledge was thereby legitimately closed, and religion thus advanced a stage. Now the same God had glorified the great Teacher whom Moses had predicted (ver. 22), under whom the legal dispensation must pass into the Christian. When that Teacher came He said, as Moses might have said, "I come not to destroy, but to fulfil," and when He died He exclaimed, "It is finished." By glorifying Jesus, therefore, God put His seal upon the further advance which religion had made out of Judaism into Christianity. A true servant of the God of Abraham was thus logically a Christian.
II. THE GLORIFICATION OF THE HUMILIATED CHRIST.
1. No depth of Christ's degradation is here left unexplored.
(1) He who claimed to command legions of angels was "delivered up."(2) He who demanded the profoundest homage and the complete allegiance was "destined."(3) This denial came from "His own" for whom He had done so much, and to whose loyalty He had every right.
(4) It took place in the presence of a heathen governor, whose jurisdiction was thereby acknowledged, and in spite of even his protestations.
(5) And to crown all the release of a murderer was demanded, while the Prince of Life was handed over to the Cross.
2. The glorification reversed all this. Deep as Christ descended it was higher that He rose.
(1) Jesus was released from a more terrible than Roman tyranny after Jews and Romans had been allowed to do their worst.
(2) The belief and confession of the apostles then, and of adoring Christians since, more than compensates for the denial before Pilate — the inveterate denial which has since characterised the stubborn race. The grand testimony of Paul before Felix, Festus and Nero makes atonement for the shameful denial of Caiaphas and his rabble before the Roman judge — not to mention the innumerable testimonies all through Christian history which, "before princes and governors" have been borne to Christ.
(3) That Cross to which Christ was nailed gave Him power to give life to dead humanity, and that power He now wields from the throne of heaven.
III. THE INVETERATE DEPRAVITY OF THE HUMAN HEART — the denial of the Holy One and the preference of a murderer. Here sin is seen in its ghastliest development, but the ghastliness lies in the circumstances. We are horrified at the Crucifixion, but the Crucifixion was only a detail, the denial was the essence of the act. And this denial of Christ, and the preference of one who is "a murderer from the beginning" is normal. The sinner is doing to-day that the only logical outcome of which is crucifixion, and letting loose the devil on his life. This is what is being done on a large scale, and the same is being done on a smaller. What is history but the record of the preference of murderers to deliverers? What was the reward of Socrates, of Savonarola, of Cromwell, of the early Christian martyrs, and later Protestant confessors?
IV. THE IMPOTENCE OF SEEMING MIGHT AND THE POWER OF APPARENT WEAKNESS. The power of Rome was at its greatest, and the malignancy and craft of Judaism most intense and concentrated, and both were exerted to crush the Prophet of Nazareth. And both said that He was crushed — killed upon a cross and shut up in a carefully guarded tomb. And then it might seem was that poor, weak Prophet at His weakest and poorest. Who could help Him now? Himself. "The Prince of Life," "could not be holden of death"; and that "stone cut without hands" has crushed in succession the mightiest despotisms that have dominated the race. And that the weakness of God is stronger than the power of man, let the history of all great and beneficent monuments bear witness. "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." The leader is killed but the cause flourishes. The thinker starves; but his thoughts become the potent forces of the world. The inventor dies of a broken heart with the products of his genius lying in ruins around him; but his invention lives, and helps to make civilisation what it is.
V. The potency of faith — Of all things the weakest in the world's estimate. Are there not circles in which faith and folly are convertible terms? And on what does this faith rest? On what the world would call an accomplished failure. "Stark imbecility" — then says the world. But here, again, God chooses the weak things to confound the mighty; for in this early instance of its exercise it accomplished what all the science of the world before and since has failed to do; it gave a man perfect physical soundness. And here, and here alone, is the cure for personal, social, literary, commercial, national unsoundness. Everything else has failed. Let this be tried on a large scale, and faith in Christ will give "perfect soundness" to a crippled world.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.