Walking in Truth Devotional Update, Jesus Delivered to Pilate
Jesus Delivered to Pilate
(Mat 27:1, 2, 11-14; Mk 15:1-5; Lk 23:1-5; Jn 18:28-38)
Jesus successively underwent four instances of rejection: 1) a religiously motivated rejection by the Sanhedrin, 2) a socially motivated rejection by Pilate, 3) a politically instigated rejection by the crowd, and 4) a circumstantially determined rejection by the soldiers.
Pontius Pilate was a man who lusted for celebrity and status, who put his career before everything, including people and principle. When he finally lost his position, his life was not worth living. He lacked the traditional Roman virtues of honor and integrity and lived for himself.
The Sanhedrin, having brought Jesus to Pilate, refused to go inside, and Pilate went outside to see what the ruckus was. They presented a charge against Jesus. The reason the Jews refused to go into Pilate’s house was because he was a Gentile, and it was the eve of a great feast; and they would be declared unclean, defiled for having gone into the home of a sinner and would not be able to take part in the religious ceremonies of the Passover.
As Jesus stood before Pilate, the Sanhedrin’s representatives made their charge of high treason—”This man would be King!” We observe an ascending curiosity on Pilate’s part as the exchanges began: “‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied” (Mark 15:2). Luke explains more fully: “And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king’” (Luke 23:2).
When they saw that Pilate was skeptical, Luke adds, “they insisted, ‘He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching’” (Luke 23:5). “So again, Pilate asked him,” “‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” Jesus’ silence was a most eloquent answer. Pilate was used to loud protests, but there was only silence. “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Pilate was convinced of his innocence. John has recorded a little bit longer description of this conversation between Jesus and Pilate (John 18:33-37).
Jesus responded to Pilate. “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” “So, you are claiming to be a King?” And Jesus’ answer is basically, “Yes, but my mission is to come into this world and bear witness to the truth.” Pilate understood that Jesus was not claiming to be a social revolutionary. He was claiming to be a King in a spiritual sense. And Pilate recognized that He was not guilty of any political designs against the Roman empire.
Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, where Jesus again kept his regal silence. Herod sent him back, saying that he had done nothing deserving death (Luke 23:15). John records that Pilate took Jesus back inside the palace and questioned him personally Pilate saw it all for what it was: Jesus was no blood-letting revolutionary. He was a victim of establishment envy. So, with this he went out again to the Jews and said, ‘I find no basis for a charge against him’” (John 18:38).
There was a custom at Passover of granting amnesty to a prisoner of the people’s choice. Pilate had in custody a notorious criminal, who was a murderer and a bandit. He would give the crowd a choice. Of course, they would choose to grant amnesty to this harmless Jesus. But no, they cried, “Crucify him!”. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them and had Jesus flogged… (Mark 15:9-15)
The scourging was done by the dreaded flagellum whip, consisting of throngs plaited with pieces of bone and lead. The flagellum left Jesus with bone and cartilage showing. “…his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness” (Isaiah 52:14). His brow wore the mocking crown of thorns. A faded purple robe, crimson with blood, hung dripping from his shoulders.
The Roman soldiers had no vested interest in Jesus, yet fully participated in the rejection. Mark says that “the whole company of soldiers” (Mark 15:16) played with Jesus like a cat plays with a mouse—in dispassionate, unblinking torture. Why? Because savagery begets savagery. And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.
Jesus left heaven and His glory to come to earth to be rejected, betrayed, falsely accused, beaten and finally crucified for you and me. How can anyone reject the only person who suffered so much to redeem sinful people?