In this post Stephanie examines the trial of Jesus, from John 19. In particular Stephanie considers the role Pilate played in the crucifixion of Jesus.
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The Trial Of Jesus
John 19:1-16 (ESV) reads like this:
“Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, ‘See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.’ So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Behold the man!’ When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, ‘Crucify him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.’ When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, ‘You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?’ Jesus answered him, ‘You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.’
“From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.’ So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, ‘Behold your King!’ They cried out, ‘Away with him, away with him, crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.”
We don’t often think of Pilate’s story as Easter approaches each year. And if we do, we somehow consider him weak and a failure. He could have let Jesus go, but he didn’t. Jesus even addresses this issue in the passage we read.
The fact that Pilate’s authority came from God Himself does not let Pilate off the hook. Like all of us, he will have to stand before the Judgment Seat.
But let’s consider for a few minutes just how hard Pilate tried to set Jesus free. First, he offered to release Him, but as we read yesterday the crowds chose the thief Barabbas.
Hoping having Jesus beaten would satisfy His accusers, Pilate did so and then took Him before the crowds beaten and bloodied and once again stated he found no guilt in Jesus. But because the crowds insisted that Jesus be crucified, Pilate sought to hand off the responsibility. He wanted no part of it.
Jesus The Son Of God
And when the crowds informed Pilate that Jesus deserved to die because He claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate was even more upset. He may not have been Jewish. He may not have understood their Scriptures or their customs, but I’m fairly certain he didn’t want to risk putting to death the Son of God.
The few brief words, “from then on,” indicates to me that Pilate sought at many times and in many ways to free Jesus, even more than are recorded here. But the crowds would not be moved. They accused Pilate of not being Caesar’s friend. Rebellion against Caesar carried dire consequences in that day. Still, Pilate sought to free Jesus. He declared, “Behold your King!”
The crowds again cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”
Pilate made one more vain attempt. “Shall I crucify your King?”
Upon the crowd’s response, “We have no king but Caesar,” Pilate gave into the pressure. He handed the innocent Son of God over to be put to death possibly the most excruciating way ever devised by man.
Don’t Judge Too Harshly
Maybe for the first time, I can sympathize with this man—even empathize with him. Too often I don’t make a bold stand for my faith and I have never experienced the kind of pressure this man was under.
Jesus didn’t absolve him of his sin, but the Lord did say, “He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”
May we be careful not to judge others too harshly. And may we be honest as we examine our own lives.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
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Images courtesy of:
Jesus Before Pilate – Buoninsegna Duccio
Depressed Woman – Bella Worth