HOW GOD STAYS IN TOUCH WITH MAN: XIX

Caiaphas and his Kangaroo court were about to sit down and eat their Passover meal when Judas arrived and informed them that Jesus could easily be apprehended without a public notice. To avoid public retribution, the leaders had decided to have Jesus removed, as a rival to Caesar. So, Judas led a band of Sanhedrin guards and Roman soldiers to Gethsemane, where they arrested Jesus. They then took Jesus to Annas and Caiaphas where Jesus was humiliated and sentenced to die. The Sanhedrin feared the public because the people liked what Jesus was doing. Therefore, the Jewish leaders put the blame on the Romans. These Jewish leaders forced Pilate to do their killing. By six a.m., in the morning, they had Jesus handed over to the Romans. And by nine a.m., in the morning, a strong Roman military contingent led Jesus to Golgotha. False rumor had it that Jesus had planned an insurrection. And that is why mostly women met Jesus carrying the cross. And only one man, going home, was forced to carry Jesus’ cross (Luke 23:28; Mark 15:21). By three p.m., in the afternoon, Jesus had died.

PILATE ENDED IN THE JUDGES HOT-SEAT AND ORDERED THAT THE LAMB BE SACRIFICED

It was all by divine design! The Jews, were specially chosen to handle the reason why the Lamb of God had to be rejected, and why the Lamb of God had to die. However, the Gentiles had to do the executing of the Lamb! Therefore, both the Jews and the Gentiles were covered by the shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God for their remission of sins. Pilate, representing the Gentiles, was handed the final decision to authorized the sacrifice. Pilate was not careless or indifferent about the sentencing of Jesus. We have four accounts, which indicate how troubling the Roman Governor was. Every Gospel adds something that was significant and necessary for the “Sacrifice of Christ” to take place. At the time these things occurred, it appears that no one understood what Christ was doing. It was after the “Resurrection of Jesus, the Christ” and a lengthy delay of His return, that Christ’s followers began to grasp the meaning of “man’s redemption” and “God’s Heavenly Kingdom” (Luke 9:43-45; 24:44-45; John 8:27-30; John 12:16).

The Gospel of Mark has all the leaders and all the elders deliver Jesus bound to Pilate as a rival king to Caesar. They did not tell Pilate why they had dragged Jesus to him. In addition to being afraid of the people, it also was the Passover and the accusers were not purified, and neither had they eaten the Passover lamb. John Mark did not list all the reasons why the Jews wanted Jesus dead. However, John Mark did list one reason, which the Roman had to deal with; namey, that Jesus claimed that He was the “King of the Jews.” The fear that Jesus would arouse the Romans and cause the leaders to lose their power and their temple became real when they chose Barabbas in place of Jesus. Pilate was simply not able to stop the Jewish demands that Jesus be crucified.  

And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things and Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered.

Now at the feast he used to release for them any one who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Bar-abbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he was wont to do for them. And he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Bar-abbas instead. And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man whom you call the King of the Jews?” And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Bar-abbas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified (Mark 15:1-15).

In addition to what Mark reported on the sentencing of Jesus, on choosing Barabbas over Jesus, the compilers of Matthew included some additional information, which is helpful for us to understand the plight of Judas and his false expectations, and also what was done with the thirty pieces of silver. Judas’ disappointment, as to what was done with Jesus, was no different from the other apostles who did not understand, why the Son of God had come into the world in the first place? Far too many, among us, have a tendency and believe what God’s intentions are for the world. Then, there was the wife of Pilate, who added to her husband’s predicament and worries, while he tried to free Jesus. Like Pilate, we are not always at liberty to make the choices we want. Even the washing of his hands did not free Pilate from the guilt the Jews put on him.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me” (Matthew 27: 1-10).

For he (Pilate) knew that it was out of envy that they delivered Jesus up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgement seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with this righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Bar-abbas and destroy Jesus.The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Bar-abbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.”

And he said, “Why, what evil had he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified.”

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying,”I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us nad on our children!” Then he released them Bar-abbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified (Matthew 27:18-26).

PILATE’S ATTEMPT TO SHIP JESUS OFF TO HEROD FAILED

Pilate learned that Jesus was not a resident of his territory but of Galilee, where Herod, his antagonist, was the governor. Pilate was unaware that the Herodians, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees had united to dispose of Jesus (Mark 3:6). Jesus was a far greater threat to them than to the Romans. But, like the Jews, Herod had no intention to commit political suicide on the most holy feast in Israel, on a person who was popular in Galilee. Herod, himself, was hated for having beheaded the much respected John the Baptist (Mark 6:14-29). Jesus was warned that Herod sought His Life. Therefore, Jesus called Herod “a fox.” And Jesus predicted that in three days, Herod would have that chance to take Jesus’ Life (Luke 13:31-33). However, Herod, the Fox, realized that it was a national and a political issue, and therefore, the Fox sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate had to placate the Jewish leaders with Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer. It was Barabbas the Jewish leaders should have rejected and not Jesus. Pilate was not too eager to sentence Jesus without a sound reason for the Roman law. Pilate had to have evidence that Jesus could be harmful to Rome. Pilate already had Barabbas in prison who was the man that had rebelled against Rome.

Then the whole company of them arose, and brought Jesus before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, and forbidding us o give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And Pilate said to the chief priests and the multitudes, “I find no crime in this man.” But they were urgent saying “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent he over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length; but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; the, arraying him in gorgeous apparel, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him; neither did Herod for he sent him back to us. Behold, nothing deserving death has been done by him; I will therefore, chastise him and release him.”

But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas” — a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city, and for murder. Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesu; but they shouted out, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, whom they asked for; but Jesus he delivered up to their will (Luke 23:1-25).

PILATE’S LAST ATTEMPT TO FREE JESUS BRANDED HIM AS AN ENEMY OF CAESAR

The trial against Jesus was held outside because the Jews could not enter any Roman quarters, and because the Jews did not want to defile themselves before they had eaten the Passover lamb (sheep or goat). The Jews were in a hurry to get back to their Passover preparation and celebration, so they pushed Pilate for a quick death sentence on Jesus, as a “contender of Caesar.” Pilate, whose nerves were more than rattled, by Herod’s refusal to try Jesus, by his wife to have nothing to do with this righteous man, and by the Jew’s demand for a man like Barabbas, raised Pilate’s suspicion and the need to search for the truth behind why they hated Jesus so much? Pilate began to engage Jesus in a dialogue. During their exchange, Jesus informed the governor that he is destined to carry out orders about Him that were preordained by God; and therefore, any human attempt to stop it would fail. Jesus assured Pilate that he was not as guilt as the Jewish leaders.  

Then the Jews led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was early. They themselves did not enter the praetorium, so that they might not be defiled, but might eat the passover. So Pilate went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not an evil-doer, we would not have handed him over.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” This was to fulfill the word which Jesus had spoken to show by what death he was to die.

Pilate entered the praetorium again and called Jesus,  and said to him. “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me; what have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Every one who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

After he had said this, he went out to the Jews again, and told them, “I find no crime in him. But you have a custom that I Should release one man for you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Bar-abbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber (John 18:28-40).

Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited 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, “Behold, I am bringing him out to you, that you may know that I find no crime in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, Here is 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 crime in him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law he ought to die, because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard these words he was more afraid; he entered the praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. Pilate therefore said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and power to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above; therefore he who delivered me to you has the greater sin.”

Upon this Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend; ever one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar.” When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Golgotha. Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Here is 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.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified (John 19:1-16).