28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s residence. (Now it was very early morning.) They did not go into the governor’s residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal. 29 So Pilate came outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own law!” The Jewish religious leaders replied, “We cannot legally put anyone to death.”
Before we begin we need a little bit of history. Jesus was brought to his first trial (Jewish), which was in front of Anna’s, who had been the High Priest, until he was removed from office. However, he still had great influence because most consider him to still be the “true” High Priest. Who were the Sadducees and Pharisees, and why were they against Jesus? Sadducees were priestly, wealthy men, mostly from aristocratic families. They only associated with the ruling class. The name Pharisee in its Hebrew form means separatists, or the separated ones. They were also known as chasidim, which means loyal to God, or loved of God. This was pretty ironic considering their actions toward Jesus. The Pharisees received the following of the common people. Then you’ll notice the Bible speaks of the Sanhedrin which was a governing body made up of the chief priest (high priest), a vice chief justice, and 69 general members. It was made up of Pharisees and Sadducees. It is basically the Supreme Court and legislative body of ancient Israel. However, this governing body did not have the right to hand down a death sentence. Jesus would have to go before Roman law to carry out the scriptures referring to the crucifixion.
So if you are still with me, there is a point to the History lesson. Jesus was a Jew, an ordinary man in appearance, and from the town of Nazareth. He and His disciples had no education, no formal training, and yet they had the audacity to quote scripture, heal people, and cast out demons. This infuriated the religious leaders because they felt threatened by Jesus and his disciples. The Sadducees and Pharisees political standing, pompous attitude, and arrogant self-esteem caused not only blindness to the truth, but hatred in their heart. Eventually, they were so sure of themselves; they left God behind. We may actually know Christians that fit this category. They are so stifled in religion, rules, and regulations; they have left God behind all together.
I don’t want you to miss the irony of this situation. The Jews are demanding Jesus’ death on the cross, as they are preparing for Passover. They would not even enter into Pilate’s dwelling because they were scared they would be defiled. Is there anything out of place here? They are meticulously carrying out all the ceremonial and ritual details of the Law, while trying to crucify the Son of God. Basically, they had missed it. Does this sound familiar? We get so involved in church life, and Christianity that we forget to be Christians. We overlook the verse If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother he has seen, cannot love the God he has not seen” (1John 4:20). So does history repeat itself? We still get caught up in the things we think are right, and just, and forget mercy, grace and forgiveness, the very core of whom Jesus was.
Jesus had already been scourged, beaten, and humiliated, but they cried for more. Hatred had consumed them, and they no longer contained reason, mercy, or even common humanity. Once a person allows their heart to become cold, callous, unforgiving, and full of hatred; they can no longer see the truth as it really is. Hatred is a scary emotion. It can rip relationships, divide communities, and crumble a nation from the inside out. Everything becomes distorted, twisted, and manipulated for personal gain. The Jews did not hesitate to twist the facts around to satisfy their goal. They knew Pilate would not take part in any religious matters, so they produced a charge of rebellion and political insurrection. They were willing to do anything it took to make sure they reached their end desire, crucifying Jesus.
Not only were they willing to twist the truth, they were willing to deny every principle they had. In verse
John 19:15 the Chief Priest says, “We have no king but Caesar”. Pilate must have been astonished at what he heard. A Jew was recognizing Caesar as their King, rather than God. In Samuel 12:12 when the people wanted a King, He tells them that God alone should be their king. In Judges 8:23 Gideon said, “ I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you: the Lord will rule over you.” So what has just happened? In one rash moment, with one statement, the Chief Priest has abandoned their belief of God as King. Don’t miss this point because it was essential to the Jews. Many Jews had died trying to preserve this belief, but now because it is not convenient, the Chief Priest chose to disregard it. Have you ever been guilty of disregarding your faith? Maybe God was not convenient for you in a relationship, a job, a political standing, and the list could go on and on. The bottom line is there are times we are willing to sacrifice our faith and beliefs, for something we want, no matter the cost.
I will leave you with these thoughts. Sometimes we can miss God, and be in church every Sunday, just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. It is not enough to hear the gospel. The Gospel demands a response. It demands action. If you are sitting in church and never serve; it calls you to get up and go serve. If you despise your neighbor, it calls you to forgive. If you are racial, it calls you to love. If you are greedy, it calls you to give. If you are lost, it calls you to a redeemer. If you are broken, it calls you to a healer. Do you see the pattern? I ask you today, what action is the Gospel calling you to today? Can we really celebrate the risen Savior, if we are not willing to take an active part in the story?