Sermons

Summary: THIS IS THE THIRD OF A FOUR PART SERIES ON THE CHARACTERS OF EASTER. PILATE WAS PLACED IN THE SITUATION WHERE TO ACT COURAGEOUSLY AND RELEASE JESUS COULD COST HIM HIS POSITION. HE CHOSE THE COWARDLY WAY AND BOWED TO THE CROWD AND ALLOWED JESUS' DEATH.

CAVORTING WITH COWARDICE

MARK 15:1-15

TODAY WE CONTINUE WITH OUR SERIES LEADING UP TO EASTER BY LOOKING AT THE CHARACTER OF PILATE. JESUS’ ILLEGAL TRIAL HAS JUST BEEN COMPLETED, AND JESUS WAS FOUND GUILTY OF BLASPHEMY. JESUS REMAINED SILENT DURING THIS TRIAL MOST LIKELY BECAUSE FOR MANY REASONS, THE OUTCOME HAD BEEN DECIDED BEFORE THE TRIAL BEGAN, NOT BY THE SANHEDRIN, BUT BY GOD. JESUS PRAYED IN HIS HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER:

JOHN 17:1: AFTER JESUS SAID THIS, HE LOOKED TOWARD HEAVEN AND PRAYED: “FATHER, THE HOUR HAS COME. GLORIFY YOUR SON, THAT YOUR SON MAY GLORIFY YOU.

THE SANHEDRIN DID NOT HAVE THE POWER TO EXECUTE A DEATH SENTENCE BECAUSE JUDAH WAS OCCUPIED BY THE ROMANS SO IMPERIAL CHARGES HAD TO BE BROUGHT AGAINST JESUS FOR A DEATH SENTENCE TO BE IMPOSED. THIS BROUGHT JESUS FACE TO FACE WITH PILATE. THIS TRIAL WAS PROBABLY THE MOST HONEST THAT JESUS WOULD FACE IN THAT PILATE DISCOVERED THAT JESUS WAS IN FACT INNOCENT. THE ACTIONS HE TOOK WAS TO TRY TO APPEASE THE JEWS AND SAVE JESUS’ LIFE.

A TRANSFORMATION TOOK PLACE WHEN JESUS WAS BEFORE PILATE. IT WAS A TRANSFORMATION AS TO WHO WAS ACTUALLY ON TRIAL. AS JESUS SPOKE TO PILATE THE FOCUS CHANGED FROM JESUS SPEAKING OF HIS INNOCENCE, TO PILATE MAKING HIS DECISION AS TO WHETHER OR NOT JESUS WAS WHO HE SAID HE WAS. IT WAS PILATE WHO HAD TO DETERMINE WHAT IS TRUTH.

JAMES STEWART A GREAT THEOLOGIAN WROTE:

“EVERYONE WHO STUDIES THE NARRATIVE HAS THE STRANGE FEELING THAT THE TABLES ARE BEING TURNED, BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES. WHAT THEY ARE SEEING IS NOT JESUS ON TRIAL BEFORE THE CROWD, BUT PILATE, ON TRIAL BEFORE JESUS. AS PILATE STANDS WITH THE SON OF GOD IN THOSE HOURS, IT IS AS IF JESUS’ SEARCHLIGHT IS PROBING HIS SOUL, REVEALING HIS TRUE CHARACTER FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE. EVERY SOUL STANDS WHERE PILATE STOOD AT SOMETIME IN THEIR LIFE…FACE TO FACE WITH JESUS IN THE PLACE OF DECISION.”

PILATE WAS NOT A GREAT GOVERNOR FOR ROME, AND HAD RECEIVED HIS POSITION THROUGH NEPOTISM AS HE MARRIED CLAUDIA PROCULA, WHO WAS A RELATIVE OF THE EMPEROR TIBERIUS. HE WOULD SERVE AS GOVERNOR FOR 10 YEARS, WITH JESUS’ TRIAL COMING IN THE FOURTH YEAR.

PILATE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THREE THINGS IN JUDAH:

1. FOR KEEPING LAW AND ORDER

2. HANDING OUT JUSTICE

3. COLLECTING TAXES

PILATE HAD DONE A NUMBER OF THINGS TO INFURIATE THE JEWS, AND EVENTUALLY WAS CALLED BEFORE TIBERIUS AND HAD HIS POSITION THREATENED IF HE CONTINUED HIS WAYS. IT ALLOWED THE JEWS LEVERAGE TO HAVE THEIR WAY WHEN JESUS WAS BROUGHT BEFORE HIM.

THE JEWS KNEW THAT THEIR CHARGE WOULD HAVE NO IMPACT ON PILATE. HE HATED THEM AS MUCH AS THEY HATED HIM. THEY NEEDED TO BRING DIFFERENT CHARGES AGAINST JESUS THAT HE COULD NOT IGNORE. THEY CAME UP WITH THREE:

1. NOT TO PAY TAXES TO ROME

2. CLAIMING TO BE A KING “THE KING OF THE JEWS”

3. STIRRING UP THE PEOPLE ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY

EACH OF THESE CHARGES IF FOUND GUILTY BROUGHT ABOUT THE DEATH PENALTY. THE ONLY CHARGE THAT CONCERNED PILATE WAS THE SECOND ONE, AS HE COULD CONTROL THE COLLECTION OF TAXES AND PUT DOWN REBELLIONS WITH FORCE IF NECESSARY.

PILATE WAS THE ONLY PERSON THAT JESUS HAS RECORDED CONVERSATION WITH DURING THE TIME OF JESUS TRIALS. THIS WAS NECESSARY TO CONFIRM THAT JESUS’ DEATH WAS IN FACT HIS SACRIFICE FOR US, AND ACCORDING TO THE PLAN OF GOD NOT MAN.

PILATE IS AMAZED THAT JESUS REMAINS SILENT AS THE JEWS BRING CHARGE AFTER CHARGE AGAINST HIM. HE ASKS JESUS BLUNTLY IF HE CLAIMS TO BE A KING. JESUS RESPONSE CONVINCES PILATE THAT JESUS IS NOT A THREAT TO THE ROMANS AS HE CLAIMS TO BE A “KING” OF A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM, AND DOES NOT ASPIRE TO GAIN A PHYSICAL KINGDOM.

PILATE THEN MUST BATTLE A SECOND QUESTION, ONE THAT YOU AND I BATTLE MANY TIMES, WHEN HE ASKS “WHAT IS TRUTH?” THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS THAT PILATE KNEW WHAT TRUTH WAS, AS DO WE. THE REAL QUESTION IS WHETHER OR NOT HE WOULD RESPOND WITH COURAGE, OR BOW TO THE PRESSURE OF THE GREAT CROWD ASSEMBLED WHO WANTED JESUS EXECUTED.

PILATE WAS NOT TRYING TO DENY THE TRUTH, HE WAS TRYING TO HIDE THE TRUTH. TO KNOW WHAT IS TRUE AND NOT TO STAND FOR IT, IS AN ACT OF COWARDICE. THIS PILATE WOULD DO IN FIVE DIFFERENT WAYS:

FIRST: PILATE DECLARES THE TRIAL IRREVELENT.

LUKE AND JOHN TELL US THAT JESUS ADMITS TO PILATE THAT HE IS THE KING OF THE JEWS, BUT THAT HIS KINGDOM IS A SPIRITUAL KINGDOM AND NOT A PHYSICAL OR POLITICAL KINGDOM. THEREFORE HE IS NOT A DANGER TO ROME AS THE JEWS CHARGE. THIS DID NOT SATISFY THE CROWD AS THEY CLAIMED THAT HE WAS LEADING A REBELLION AGAINST ROME, BEGINNING IN GALILEE.

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