Guilty Compromise
Luke 23:16
I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

Twice (see ver. 22) Pilate made this offer to the Jews. He would chastise Jesus and release him; he would thus gratify them by putting the Object of their hatred to pain and humiliation, and he would satisfy his own conscience by saving an innocent man from the last extremity. It was a poor and a guilty compromise he proposed as a solution. If Jesus were as guilty as they claimed that he was, he deserved to die, and Pilate was in duty bound to condemn him to death; if he were innocent, he certainly ought not to have been subjected to the exposure and agony of scourging. It was a cowardly and ignoble endeavor to save himself at the expense either of public or of individual justice. Compromises are of very different character. There are compromises which are -

I. JUST, AND THEREFORE HONOURABLE. Two men in business have claims one against the other, and one cannot convince the other by argument; the proposal is made to adjust their respective claims by a compromise, each man consenting to forego something, the concession of the one being taken as a fair equivalent to that of the other: this is honorable to both. It very probably results in each man getting what is his due, and it saves both from the misery and expense of Litigation, and preserves good will and even friendship.

II. WISE, AND THEREFORE COMMENDABLE. A society - it may be of a distinctly religious character - is divided by its members holding opposite opinions. Some advocate one course, the others urge a different one. The idea is suggested that a third course be adopted, which includes some features of the two; there is no serious principle involved, it is only a matter of procedure, a question of expediency. Then it will probably be found to be the wisdom of that society to accept the proposed compromise. Every one present has the double advantage of securing something which he approves, and (what is really better, if it could but be realized) that of yielding something to the wishes or the convictions of other people.

III. GUILTY, AND THEREFORE CONDEMNABLE. Such was that of the text. Such have been innumerable others since then. All are guilty that are effected:

1. At the expense of truth. The teacher of Divine truth may bring his doctrine down to the level of his hearers' understanding; he may make known the great verities of the faith "in many portions" (πολυμερῶς); but he may not, in order to "please men," distort or withhold the living truth of God. If he does that he shows himself unworthy of his office, and he exposes himself to the severe condemnation of his Divine Master.

2. At the expense of justice. However anxious we may be to preserve outward harmony, we may not, for the sake of peace, do any one man a wrong; may not asperse his character, injure his prospects, wound his spirit. Rather than do that, we must face the storm, and guide our bark as best we can.

3. At the expense of self-respect. If Pilate had been less hardened than he probably was, less accustomed to the infliction of human pain and shame, he would have gone back to the interior of his house ashamed of himself, as he thought of the lacerating scene that immediately followed that mockery of a trial. If we cannot yield without inflicting on our own soul a real spiritual injury, without doing (or leaving undone) an action the remembrance of which will not only shame but weaken us, then we must not compromise the matter in dispute. We must tell our tale, whatever it may be; we must make our motion, whomsoever it may offend; we must walk straight on in the road of rectitude, in the path of humanity. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I will therefore chastise him, and release him.

WEB: I will therefore chastise him and release him."

Jesus and Pilate
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