Summary: Part IV in the series - 24. This is a first person narrative account from the perspective of Pilate. The preaching idea: Jesus’ faith, unlike the religious people of his day, was genuine. How about yours?
Over the past three weeks we’ve met three characters who were present during the final hours in the life of Jesus Christ. We began this unique series of sermons with a visit from a man who purportedly owned the house in which the Last Supper took place. Two weeks ago we met that man’s son who one tradition suggests was Mark the author of the Gospel by the same name who may have been present in the Garden of Gethsemane. And last week we were introduced to Caiaphas, the high priest responsible for the illegal trial in which Jesus was decided to be deserving of death.
In case you haven’t been with us, so as not to frighten you by a form of preaching with which you may not be familiar, this series is a unique series in that it is done from the first person perspective of the character.
I want to warn you ahead of time that material that will be covered in the next two weeks may not necessarily be appropriate for young ears. We will be looking intently at both the persecution endured by Jesus from the perspective of the centurion and at the actual crucifixion from the perspective of one of the thieves who died with Jesus.
I also want to invite you to be present on Easter Sunday. You may be aware that a documentary has recently been released entitled claiming to have located the tomb of Jesus. My Easter message will be entitled “Tomb Raiders” and will use that documentary as a spring board for exploring some of the evidence for the resurrection and more importantly the power of the resurrection in our lives today. Please don’t miss that Easter Sunday, and perhaps even more importantly, invite someone to come and hear the life changing message of Easter!
Remarks about Pilate…
This morning we will be exploring the life of Pontius Pilate, a man who has become somewhat of a legend. Apart from the words of Scripture which we believe to be the inspired Word of God, the historical accounts and traditions that describe his life and character vary greatly. His story has undergone growth and development.
An early Jewish historian ascribes to him rape, insult, murder and inhumanity. The earliest Christian literature holds him to be dire and evil. But later literature assesses him more favorably even to the point that one church made a saint of him. The early church father Tertullian described him as a Christian at heart and the “Acts of Pilate” a gospel that was written in the fourth century notes that the crime he committed was forced upon him by the Jews, that the soldiers he commanded paid respect for Jesus even bowing the knee, and that he showed the deepest contrition upon Jesus’ death.
The difficulty in understanding the life of Pilate is further compounded by the reality of four different Gospels. Compare the story of Pilate in the four different books and you will essentially find two different stories. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are very similar in content and it is believed shared a similar source when they were written. The Gospel of John however is fresh and has a ring of truth to its delivery especially as it deals with topography and the interrogation of Jesus. For that reason I want to turn with you this morning to John to hear the story.
Would you turn with me in your Bibles to John 18:28…
Let us pray…
I’ve gone down in history as a villain. While the Jewish people often get blamed for the wrongful execution of Jesus Christ, there’s only one non-Jew, one Gentile, who has the finger pointed at him – me. My name is Pontius Pilate, Pontius being my Roman family name, and Pilate a name which means “pikeman” or “one armed with a javelin.” People have for centuries speculated as to where I came from, but you can guess from my name that my parents had certain ambitions for me from the time I was born. And I grew to live up to those expectations.
I was the Roman procurator, the governor of Judea, which by the way was not a very desirable appointment. It was my job to see that the Jewish people didn’t get out of line. Little did I know that the Jewish people would ultimately be my demise.
My Headache: The Jews
From the day I arrived in Jerusalem there were problems. These Jewish people were unlike anyone I had ever seen before. Their religious customs and laws were extreme and unusual. They were hard to get along with.
Let me give you a couple of examples:
In every other capital city throughout the provinces that the Roman Empire controlled there were statues of the emperor that the people were forced to bow down to. It was a way of showing respect. And it was a way of demanding loyalty. It wasn’t a problem in other places. But when I arrived I discovered that Jerusalem had no such statues. I’ll fix that, I thought, and so I had my soldiers bring images of the emperor in and place them on the walls that faced down into the Temple.