CHRIST BEFORE PILATE, PILATE BEFORE CHRIST
Mt. 27:11-26; Jn. 19:6-12
A. HUMOR: THE STATE DINNER
1. A New York Governor invited a group of clergy to the State House on a Friday for breakfast. However, as soon as they all were seated and the food was delivered to the table, he began to wonder whether he had made a faux pas by serving meat on a Friday.
2. "Please don’t worry, Governor," said the Catholic priest. "Since we instituted Vatican II, we can now eat meat on Fridays. So it’s no problem now!"
3. They all looked at the Jewish representative. He looked down at the large portion of bacon on his plate. Rabbi Levy said to the Governor, "I’m sorry, Governor, but I can't eat this - we are still operating under Sinai I."
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 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 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 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.
1. No one took Jesus’ life; He gave it voluntarily. His death purchased our salvation.
2. It’s not automatic; we must personally accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
3. PILATE’S INFAMY. The Roman Empire had thousands of provincial officials over its 800 year reign, but only one of them is remembered.
4. Millions of Christians mention him when saying the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed – “crucified under Pontius Pilote.
5. Millions of children who have never heard the name of Tiberius Caesar have heard of this petty underling!
I. WAS PILATE ON TRIAL BEFORE CHRIST?
A. UNUSUAL HESITANCY OF PILATE
1. Life was cheap. There was little regard for human life by those who wielded the greatest power. Might made right.
2. The Romans were indifferent to the plight of Jews. They felt they were superior to the uneducated and disorganized tribal groups.
3. Luke 13:1 mentions “of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices.”
4. The Roman Laws and their protections only applied to Roman citizens.
5. They despised the Jews. What value was the life of a mere Jew? Why did Pilate demonstrate such a squeamishness of conscience?
B. UNUSUAL EVENTS SURROUNDING THIS TRIAL
1. HOW MUCH DID PILATE KNOW ABOUT JESUS?
a. Justin Martyr in his defense before Emperor Antonius Pius (150 A.D.) cited the “Acts of Pontius Pilate” for verification that the miracles of Jesus happened. “That He performed these miracles you may easily be satisfied form the Acts of Pontius Pilate.” [Apology, 1:48]
b. So Pilate had kept a detailed record of Jesus’ miracles and hadn’t tried to disprove them. He also knew Jesus was innocent/ sinless, for he said, “I find no fault in Him.”
2. THE TRANQUILITY OF CHRIST
a. Pilate noticed Christ’s lack on concern of being condemned. He said, “Don’t you know I have the power to execute you?” And Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” Jn. 19:11.
b. There was such a presence of God around Jesus that Pilate asked “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jn. 18:33. Pilate repeatedly tried torelease Him but the Jews resisted him.
3. PILATE’S WIFE’S DREAM
a. Another startling occurrence was the dream given to Pilate’s wife just as he was sitting down to determine what to do with Jesus.
b. In the dream God warned him to have nothing to do with condemning Jesus. In fact, his wife said, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man!”
C. THE REAL ORIGIN OF JESUS:
9 “As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened. 13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. Dan. 7:9-10,13-14.
1. The Bible says, “NOW Jesus stood before the Governor” Mt. 27:1. The Governor thought he was Big Cheese. But Who was this Jesus? “God-with-Us!” the Creator! Here was the King of Kings standing before a half-pint governor.
2. Like a 5 Star General of the U.S. standing before a minor thug of Central America! What condescension!
3. One day that position will be reversed! Pilate will stand before Christ. What a terrible hour that will be for all the opponents of Christ, when He is revealed in heavenly majesty and power. They will melt like wax!
II. PILATE’S MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
A. PERSONAL WEAKNESS
1. Indecisive – doesn’t face squarely.
2. Dodges Responsibility – Herod.
3. Compromiser – “scourge & release.”
4. Fear of Men. There had already been 2 insurrections. Pilate had foolishly brought Roman standards into the Temple area and inflamed the Jews. And he had used sacred money for secular use. Tiberius had launched an investigation.
B. WRONG METHODS
1. Offered choice to the people.
2. Sacrificed justice/ truth to popularity.
C. PILATE’S END
1. Within 6 years, deposed from office.
2. Banished to Gaul
3. Committed suicide.
III. HOW ARE WE LIKE PILATE?
A. FACED WITH THE SAME DILEMMA
1. Jesus is standing before YOU now. What will you do with Him?
2. Will you judge Him, or let Him judge you?
B. NO DODGING
1. Will we be like Pilate and evade responsibility?
2. Will we be like Felix (Acts 24:25) who put off making a decision until a more convenient season?”
3. Will we yield to peer pressure and reject Him?
4. Or will we open our hearts and accept Him?
1. Rembrandt, the Dutch master painter, painted a picture of the crucifixion.
2. He vividly portrayed Christ in agony on the Cross. He also painted the various people who were around the cross.
3. One figure is painted in the shadows, as one of the people who put Christ on the Cross: it is Rembrandt himself!
He was saying, “I too was responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.”
4. As the old poem says, “Twas I that shed the sacred blood; I nailed Him to the tree; I crucified the Christ of God; I joined the mockery!”
B. THE CALL
1. You either have to fall at His feet and proclaim, “My Lord & my God!” or cry with the multitude, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” Which will it be?
2. What is your verdict? Will you condemn HIM or condemn YOURSELF?
3. Choose to be saved from your sins by trusting in God’s Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!”
5. Lord’s Supper.
[This is a rewrite of William M. Taylor’s (1829-1895) sermon of the same title.]