Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Pilate on Trial

There never has been such a travesty of justice in all of history as the trial of Jesus.  Betrayed in the Garden of Gethsemane by Judas, His disciple; Jesus was arrested by the Sanhedrin and the temple guards and whisked off to the temple court of Annas the High Priest and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, to be tried in the middle of the night, even though the Law of Moses required trials to occur only between sun up and sun down. 

It was a mockery of a trial that Jesus faced before the murderous Sanhedrin, who mocked Him and slapped Him and punched Him and spit in His face, treating Him with utter contempt.

The decision to execute Jesus had already been determined by the Jewish religious leaders a week earlier after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead. That miracle catapulted Jesus to fame throughout the region and the Jews were ready to make Jesus their King.

The chief priests and Pharisees hated Jesus for His public exposure of their hypocrisy. They wanted Him dead. Their main concern was to present to Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine, a capital charge against Jesus that would insure His execution. They quickly settled on a   charge that Jesus was guilty of blasphemy for  claiming to be the Son of God. However, knowing such a charge would not concern Pilate, the Roman governor of Palestine; they switched the charges to insurrection against the Roman Empire for stirring up the people. Pilate surely would be concerned about that since it was his responsibility to keep peace in Palestine.

Pilate interviewed Jesus and quickly became convinced that He was innocent of the charge of the Sanhedrin. As they pressed their charges, they let it slip that He had ministered in Galilee.  Pilate, knowing that Herod had jurisdiction there, immediately took the opportunity to pass off his responsibility to Herod, who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time.

Jesus was rushed to King Herod who also attempted to try Him by asking questions. Jesus answered him nothing and refused to perform miracles for him as he had requested.  Finally, Herod became disgusted and sent Jesus back to Pilate, mocking Him as “King of the Jews”, clothed in one of his royal robes

All of this we have discussed in the previous three articles in this series. Let’s move on now to Jesus’ second appearance before Pilate.  As Jesus arrived, Pilate ushered Him into the Judgment Hall for a private interview with Him.  You can read that interview in John 18:33-38.

Pilate’s first question to Jesus was simply, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

You can read Jesus’ answer to his question.  Then Jesus followed up by explaining His Kingdom.  He explained to Pilate in verse 36 that “His Kingdom was not of this world, (this cosmos or world system).”   If that had  been the case,  Jesus’ servants would have fought against those who arrested Him  and He would have won a decisive victory!

Those Christians who believe that Jesus is presently building His Kingdom in this present age ought to take another look at what Jesus said to Pilate. “My Kingdom is not of this world system.”   Jesus is not presently building His political Kingdom in this world today.  Rather He is building His spiritual Kingdom in the hearts of those who have been redeemed and have surrendered to His Lordship.

Rather, this world today is under Satan who is the god of this present age, according to  II Corinthians 4:4.

One day Jesus is returning to set up His Millennial Kingdom on this earth. You can read about that in my series on PROPHESY on this web site. 

Continuing the conversation between Pilate and Jesus,  Pilate asked,  “Are you then a King?”

Jesus answered Him, (and I will amplify His answer so you get the connection.)  “For this cause was I born and came into this Satan-dominated world system living under Satan’s lies, to bear witness of the Truth.” 

When Jesus mentioned the word TRUTH,  Pilate immediately asked, “WHAT IS TRUTH?”  Pilate, a typical existentialist plagued with the same question that has been asked down through the centuries, asked, “What is Truth”?

Pilate believed, as every existentialist that there is no ultimate final truth. He  believed, as every existentialist, that “truth is relative. Each of us must find our own idea of truth.”  This is the reasoning of every pseudo, would-be intellectual.

As existentialists today, Pilate did not wait for Jesus to answer his question.  He wasn’t interested in Jesus’ answer.  He was already convinced that there was no ultimate answer.

I believe that if Pilate had really wanted Jesus’ answer, Jesus would have given it to Him.  He would have said to him as He said in John 14:6  “I am the Way, the Truth  and the Life, no man comes to the Father but by Me.” But Pilate did not wait for Jesus’ answer.

Instead, he turned away from Jesus and went out to face His accusers.  In the moments that followed  three times Pilate announced  that Jesus was innocent of any capital offense.  You’ll find those three “NOT GUILTY” verdicts in Luke 23:4, 14 and 22.  In John 18:38  Pilate decisively declared, “I find in Him no fault at all!”

The innocent Jesus who had been majestically silent before His accusers was found guilty by the Jewish Sanhedrin, but innocent by Pilate and his wife, and also by Herod, we read in Luke 23:14-15.

Now Jesus stood before Pilate one final time.  Pilate was under tremendous political pressure.  If He let Jesus go, he would  be reported to Caesar and could well lose his position as Governor of Palestine.  If he pronounced Him guilty,  for the rest of his life he would  live with the fact that he sentenced an innocent man to the executioners.  This was the trial of Pilate’s life. 

As was Pilate’s custom at the Passover each year, that to please the Jews he would release one guilty of a capital offense.  This year  the insurrectionist and murder, Barabbas, was in prison awaiting crucifixion. Pilate, not wanting to execute an innocent man, offered the Jews a choice.

He called out to the angry mob,  “Whom shall I free,  Jesus or Barabbas?”  The people answered without a pause,  Free Barabbas and crucify Jesus!”

Pilate cried out in despair, “Why Jesus?  What evil has He done?”

The people did not answer with any charge against Jesus.  They just cried out mindlessly and more vehemently,  “Crucify Jesus!”  

At this time, Pilate’s wife came out to Pilate and whispered to him, “Have nothing to do with this just man. I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him.”

Finally, Pilate had a wash basin of water brought to him and in the presence of the angry mob, he washed his hands and said, “I am innocent of the blood of this just man: see ye to it.”  Of  course, this symbolic gesture did not free Pilate of His guilt.

Listen now to the chilling words of the Jews in response to Pilate.  They cried out,  “His blood be upon us and our children!”  The Jews were saying, we accept the guilt of crucifying Jesus and they have  experienced the pain of living under that guilt now for over 2000 years.

But let me be quick to add that all of us, Jews and Gentiles, are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews are no more guilty than we are.  It was our sins for which He paid the penalty of death.  

Although God used the Roman soldiers and the Jewish mob, to bring about the crucifixion of Jesus, ultimately it was God’s love for us as sinners that caused Him to send His Son into the world and pay the death penalty for us.  God the Father ultimately brought about the death of His Son for our sins.  

You can read that amazing truth in Isaiah 53:4-10   and  Acts 2:22-24.  God the Father literally forsook His Son as He hung dying on the cross, and Jesus cried out in agony,  “My God, My God, why hast Thou  forsaken Me?”

Would you thank God right now for sending His Son Jesus into this world  as a man, to die in your place for your sins?  If you refuse this gracious Gift of God, you must one day stand before the Great White Throne Judgment, described in Revelation 20:11-15 and face this  same Jesus who will condemn you, along with all Christ rejecters to eternity in Hell.

Will you receive Him as your Saviour now, or will you one day face Him as your judge?

One final point.  Three years later in 36 AD, Pilate was exiled to Gaul and committed suicide.

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March 20, 2010 - Posted by | Passion Week

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