Jesus’ Life: Chapter 18 – The Passion And Death Of Jesus
Time: Good Friday: – Approx: 6.00am
It’s likely that Pilate, the Roman Governor, knew the chief priests and elders intentions in advance, to bring Jesus to him early Friday morning. Perhaps Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, the guards who arrested Jesus or others told him. Pilate later commented,“They had handed him over because of envy”. (Matthew 27:18)
A multitude of chief priests, scribes and elders took Jesus to Pilate’s residence. They didn’t enter the Hall of Judgment – the Praetorium – themselves, “So they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Passover meal”. Instead, they waited on Pilate to come out to them. (John 18:28)
Note: “The Jews considered the touch of a Gentile to be a defilement [to make one dirty, unclean] and on this occasion, at least, seemed to regard it as a pollution to enter the house of a Gentile. They took care, therefore, to guard themselves against what they considered ceremonial pollution, while they were wholly unconcerned at the enormous crime of putting the innocent Saviour to death”. (Barnes)
Pilate, as on other such occasions, went outside to the chief priests and elders and asked, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They replied, “If this man were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you”.
The chief priests and elders wanted Pilate to order the immediate execution of Jesus, on their word, but Pilate didn’t succumb. He insisted on having formal charges presented against Jesus, in Roman law, otherwise, he instructed, “Take him yourselves and pass judgment on him according to your own [Jewish] law!”
The Jewish leaders, determined to have Jesus crucified, replied, “We cannot legally [in Jewish Law] put anyone to death” (John 18:29-32) and we have found Him guilty of:
- Subverting our nation,
- Forbidding them to pay the tribute to Caesar and
- Claiming that he was the Christ, a King. (Luke 23:2)
Note: The chief priests and elders didn’t charge Jesus with having claimed to be the Son of God, knowing well that such accusations were not a matter of the state (Roman Law).
Pilate, hearing the charges, returned to the Praetorium and asked Jesus, “‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus replied, ‘Are you saying this on your own initiative, or have others told you about me?’ Pilate answered, ‘I am not a Jew, am I? Your own people and your chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?’ Jesus replied, ‘My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here’. Then Pilate said, ‘So you are a king!’ Jesus replied, ‘You say that I am a king. For this reason, I was born, and for this reason, I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”. (John 18:33-37)
Pilate then returned to the chief priests and assembled crowd outside, and announced, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man”. But the crowd persisted, saying, “He incites the people by teaching throughout all Judea. It started in Galilee and ended up here!”
Pilate was still unconvinced by the charges laid against Jesus but when he heard that Jesus was from Galilee, he immediately attempted to shift all responsibility for Jesus’ trial to the shoulders of Herod, the Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea. (Luke 23:4-5)
Coincidentally, although Herod’s usual home was Capernaum, he was at that time in Jerusalem for the Passover so, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. (Matthew 27:11-14, Mark 15:2-5, Luke 23:2-5, John 18:29-38)
The proverb, “What goes around, comes around,” is well known but perhaps, not recalled as often as it should; the chief priests, elders and leaders will one day stand before Jesus’ tribunal!
Lord Jesus, keep me true to your Gospel, help me to treat others as I wish to be treated and remind me, when I need it most, to leave the judging to You.
Prayer: Perseverance (John Henry Newman)
support us all the day long of this troublous life,
until the shadows lengthen, and the evening comes,
and the busy world is hushed,
and the fever of life is over, and our work is done.
Then, Lord, in thy mercy,
grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest,
and peace at the last. Amen.