They watched him - Παρατηρησαντες, Insidiously watching. See on Luke 14:1; (note).
Spies - Εγκαθετους, from εν, in, and καθιημι, I let down, to set in ambush. One who crouches in some secret place to spy, listen, catch, or hurt. Hesychius explains the word by ενεδρευοντες, those who lie in wait, or in ambush, to surprise and slay. Josephus uses the word to signify a person bribed for a particular purpose. See War, b. ii. c. ii. s. 5, and b. vi. c. v. s. 2. No doubt the persons mentioned in the text were men of the basest principles, and were hired by the malicious Pharisees to do what they attempted in vain to perform.
See this explained in the Mark 12:13-27 notes.
When I first gave myself to this work, to go when God should bid me, to speak the words which He should give me for the people, I knew that I should receive opposition, reproach, persecution. I have not been disappointed. Had I depended on human applause, I would long ago have become discouraged. But I looked to Jesus, and saw that He who was without a fault was assailed by slanderous tongues. Those who made high pretensions to godliness followed as spies upon the Saviour's course, and made every exertion in their power to hedge up His way. But although He was all-powerful, He did not visit His adversaries as their sins deserved. He might have launched forth against them the bolts of His vengeance, but He did not. He administered scathing rebukes for their hypocrisy and corruption, and when His message was rejected and His life threatened, He quietly passed to another place to speak the words of life. I have tried, in my weakness, to follow the example of my Saviour. 1SM 70.1
How eagerly the Pharisees sought to prove Christ a deceiver! How they watched His every word, seeking to misrepresent and misinterpret all His sayings! Pride and prejudice and passion closed every avenue of the soul against the testimony of the Son of God. When He plainly rebuked their iniquity and declared that their works proved them to be the children of Satan, they angrily flung back the accusation, saying, “Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” 1SM 70.2Read in context »
During the years of His public ministry, the Saviour was continually watched by crafty and hypocritical men. Spies were continually upon His track to catch something from His lips which they could use to create prejudice against Him. Again and again they tried to make Him appear guilty of wrong. There were occasions when they laid traps for Him by presenting to Him questions, the answers to which they hoped to use to cause His condemnation by the people. But at every attempt they were compelled to retire from the field confounded; their actions were revealed in their true light by the answers of Christ. The Saviour's discourses presented a power of truth to the multitudes who listened. Even the men who were sent to spy upon His actions were forced to return with the report to those who sent them, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).... TDG 143.4Read in context »
The priests and rulers had listened in silence to Christ's pointed rebukes. They could not refute His charges. But they were only the more determined to entrap Him, and with this object they sent to Him spies, “which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of His words, that so they might deliver Him unto the power and authority of the governor.” They did not send the old Pharisees whom Jesus had often met, but young men, who were ardent and zealous, and whom, they thought, Christ did not know. These were accompanied by certain of the Herodians, who were to hear Christ's words, that they might testify against Him at His trial. The Pharisees and Herodians had been bitter enemies, but they were now one in enmity to Christ. DA 601.1Read in context »
But there was something in the prisoner that held Pilate back from this. He dared not do it. He read the purposes of the priests. He remembered how, not long before, Jesus had raised Lazarus, a man that had been dead four days; and he determined to know, before signing the sentence of condemnation, what were the charges against Him, and whether they could be proved. DA 725.1
If your judgment is sufficient, he said, why bring the prisoner to me? “Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law.” Thus pressed, the priests said that they had already passed sentence upon Him, but that they must have Pilate's sentence to render their condemnation valid. What is your sentence? Pilate asked. The death sentence, they answered; but it is not lawful for us to put any man to death. They asked Pilate to take their word as to Christ's guilt, and enforce their sentence. They would take the responsibility of the result. DA 725.2
Pilate was not a just or a conscientious judge; but weak though he was in moral power, he refused to grant this request. He would not condemn Jesus until a charge had been brought against Him. DA 725.3Read in context »