“Rush to Judgment II”
March 22, 2020
RUSH TO JUDGMENT II
The Last Three Trials
Now that the three Jewish “trials” are finished, the Roman soldiers, who still have Jesus in custody, lead Him to the first of three Roman “trials.” Jesus is delivered to Pontius Pilate, the current Roman Governor of Israel. Pilate was the fifth governor of the Roman province of Judea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from 26 to 37 B.C.
There are distinct differences between the Jewish trials and the Roman trials. The Sanhedrin had accused Jesus of blasphemy, that wouldn’t fly in a Roman trial, they didn’t care if Jesus spoke against the Jewish God. So, the charges were changed to treason, a charge that if proved, would garner the death penalty for the accused, especially this radical Rabbi. Another difference is that in the Roman trial there are four distinct parts of the trial: Accusation, Interrogation, Defense and Verdict. We will see all these aspects in Jesus’ trial before Pilate.
In the Accusation, we saw earlier that the charge had been changed to treason. It was obviously a false charge, but the Jewish leaders needed something to use in the Roman trial. Then in John 18:28-32 the trial begins. Then the Jews led Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness the Jews did not enter the palace; they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” the Jews objected. 32 This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled. (NIV)
After hearing the “evidence” Pilate doesn’t believe there is enough of a problem here to cause him or Rome to worry. As long as Jesus thought of Himself as the King of the Jews and not the king of Rome, Pilate had no problem here. So, he tries to return Jesus to the care of the Jewish leaders. But they would have no part of it.
Then in the Interrogation portion of the trial Pilate continues to question Jesus. (John 18:33-35) Pilate questions Jesus as if there were some covert plan to overthrow Rome. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”
The Defense (John 18:36-38a) Up to this point Jesus had either been silent or evasive. Now He has the opportunity to defend Himself. But, in telling the truth of what is going on, He confounds all of those who hear Him. Pilate shows the truth of that with his reply, “What is truth?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.” 37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” Pilate asked.
The Verdict John 18:38b With this he went out again to the Jews and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.” Seeing that he cannot find anything to charge Jesus with, Pilate plans to set Him free. But, that doesn’t set well with the Jewish crowd. They want Jesus dead, they needed to put an end to this radical Rabbi.
From here let’s look at the story from Dr. Luke’s point of view. In Luke 23:4-7 we see that Pilate had been looking for a way out, and here it is. As soon as Pilate heard that Jesus was a Galilean he knew that he could slough Jesus off on Herod; He’s Herod’s race, He’s Herod’s case. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” 5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” 6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. (NIV)
Herod Antipas was the vice – tetrarch of Palestine and was the ruling Jew, under Rome’s thumb, of course. Herod had quite a reputation, including beheading John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner, at the request of his daughter. (Matthew 14:1-12)
Herod had heard of Jesus, and was curious to see what was going on with this “religious sideshow.” Herod treated Jesus frivolously and mockingly. The contempt for Jesus began to grow and the beatings came more regularly. I was asked by a young lady in our church how the Romans could treat Jesus so cruelly, including nailing Him to a cross. The truth is they saw the Jews as nothing more than dogs to be kicked, He was a Jew. There was no humanity involved at all. After the farce before Herod, Jesus was returned, once again, to Pontius Pilate.
Pilate was walking a tightrope between upholding justice and placating the people. And now Jesus was back before him. Matthew 27:15-26 shows us what happened next with Barabbas being brought into the picture. Pilate thought this was the answer to all of his problems. He would let the people choose between a hardened criminal, and a soft spoken, innocent Rabbi. And did that backfire. Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy 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 dream because 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 Christ?” 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, “Let his blood be 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. (NIV)
Barabbas was being held in the Castle of Antonia, a Roman prison fort. It wasn’t far from Pilate’s palace. And in all the commotion Barabbas could hear most of what the crowds were shouting for. This set up a very interesting situation for Barabbas.
After offering Barabbas and Jesus, and when Barabbas was selected to be set free, Pilate turned Jesus over to be scourged and crucified. Pilate then washed his hands of the whole ordeal. Matthew 27:24 – 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!” (NIV)
Thank you Pastor Doug, your sermon posted on the website, is excellent. Not a “live” sermon, but the next best thing. Thanks for getting His word out in these trying times.
Thank you Doug for all of your daily prayers and your dedication to our church!