< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Jesus and Pilot

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jesus and Pilot

Mark 15:1-15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Pilot was governor over Judea and Samaria for 10 years. His job was to collect taxes for the emperor Tiberius, keep peace and oversee building projects. Keeping peace between the Jews and Rome required calm leadership. But Pilot was a prideful man. He had done several things that really riled the Jews in the past. For instance; the Jews never used images. Normally Roman soldiers had a picture of the emperor on their shield, but past governors of this area, out of respect, would have the soldiers use plain shields in Jerusalem.

Not Pilot.

At the time he was living quite aways away in Caesarea and a huge number of Jews came to him to complain. He ignored them for about 5 days and when they didn’t go away he sent in his soldiers to surround them and threaten them with death. They presented their necks to him willing to be killed. Jews are very stubborn and very principled! Of course he couldn’t be the cause of such a large massacre so he backed down. But it really hurt his pride.

Another time he did something similar and this time the Jews wrote to Tiberius who rebuked Pilot. Pilot was totally shamed. So at this time he was caught between a hard place and a rock! He didn’t want to rile the Jews again – especially during Passover when there were so many of them in Jerusalem, but then again he knew Jesus was an innocent man.

At first he tried to just get them to deal with it themselves. But they weren’t allowed to crucify anyone in a public way and that’s what they were after for Jesus. He also tried sending the problem to Herod since Jesus was from his district, but Herod sent Him back. Then he offered up the chance to release a prisoner as was his custom during Passover, hoping they’d let Jesus go. He even gave them a choice of just Jesus or Barabbas who was a notorious murderer. Surely they wouldn’t let him go!

But they did! And when he asked what he should do with Jesus the frenzied crowd shouted “Crucify him.” Over and over.

Jesus never defended Himself so He could go to the cross. For us.

Isaiah 53:7 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 its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

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