Jesus Before Pilate 11
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd.16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus[b] Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dreambecause of him.”20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.“Barabbas,” they answered.22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Have you ever heard the saying don’t judge a book by its cover. Often time’s things are not what they seem from the outside. Many times there may be other circumstances that have played into the situation, or have persuaded a person’s decision. Today we will look at Pilate. From the outside he is the man that pronounced the death sentence on Christ. For many that may be the only knowledge they have of Pilate. I would like to try to share with you today, a day in Pilate’s shoes.
Pilate was a procurator, which meant he was directly responsible to the Roman Emperor. Through history we know he had to be at least twenty-seven years old, for that was the minimum age for the office. Pilate would have had to climb the corporate ladder so to speak. He had advanced military experience, as well as established administrator skills. He took the job in A.D. 26, and was there for ten years.
Pilate was not a soft man. He was known for his lack of respect for others, acts of insolence, his rapine, his habit of insulting people, his cruelty, his condemnation and murders of innocent people, and his overall inhumanity. Pilate's relationship with the Jews was bad from the beginning. For example, Pilate refused to take the graven images off the flags when he came to visit, as all his predecessors had done before him; although he knew it would incite the Jews and their beliefs. Pilate raided the temple money, and used it to build an aqueduct into the city. Although the aqueduct was desperately needed, raiding the temple money was probably not a good way to make friends. Pilate also had certain shields made known as votive shields; they were devoted to the honor of the Emperor. So now Pilate has inscribed a name of a strange god and displayed it in the holy city. The people were enraged, and the Emperor instructed Pilate to remove them. Do you see the pattern yet?
The Jews felt for sure they could get a death sentence from Pilate, given his history with them. However, don’t you find it interesting that Pilate did not immediately sentence Jesus, but rather tried to escape the very request? As always Jesus’ presence commanded respect. When Jesus spoke of truth Pilate demanded, “what is truth?” Here is a man with fame, fortune, and power, yet he is intrigued by the thought of truth. Could this man Jesus offer him what he had been missing? The Son of God sat directly in front of Pilate, but fear, confusion, and distrust kept him from the very truth he sought. That day he could have found it all, but he did not have the courage to deny the pressures of the world. Many times we are just like Pilate. We feel his presence and conviction, but do not have the courage to follow through.
Pilate was trying so hard to free himself of the situation. He tried passing the responsibility by sending Jesus to Herod. When that didn’t work he began to try to inflict punishment instead of death. When that failed, he tried to appeal to the emotions and pity of the people, but with no avail, they still demanded death. Why did none of these things help; because you cannot escape a personal decision in regard to Jesus; you have to decide to accept or reject him. Pilate exclaimed to the people that he was washing his hands of the matter, but the truth is the decision would stay with him forever.
Pilate was truly torn in his decision. I believe from scripture Pilate did not want to issue the death sentence. Jesus had affected both he and his wife, even though they did not really understand who he was. On the other hand Pilate loved his status. He was afraid if he did not issue the death penalty, the Jews would report him once again to the Emperor, and he would loose his job. He was in gridlock between going with his gut feeling, and satisfying the world. Are we not the same today? Many times we feel God telling us what is right, but we feel the pressure of the world pulling us in a different direction. I pray today that you will not try to escape the presence of the Most High, but instead invite him to move into your life; and draw you near.