Summary: Eight times in this passage Pilate moves back and forth, showing how indecisive he was in this matter.
The Roman trial of Jesus is a picture of indecisive compromise. The scene flows along with Pilate moving back and forth to Jesus and to His accusers or the people. Eight times in this passage Pilate moves back and forth, showing how indecisive he was in this matter. We have a lot to cover tonight so lets’ get into the Scripture.
READ 18:28. Last we saw how Jesus was arrested in the garden, taken to Annas behind the scenes, then Annas sent Jesus to the active high priest, Caiaphas. So now Jesus is led into the palace or hall of judgment. It was early morning. Note the Jews didn’t enter. The hall was a Gentile palace and it was the Sabbath of the Passover season. To enter the judgment hall would have polluted and contaminated them ceremonially. They would have been disallowed from participating in the Passover. This was kind of a trivial matter considering this was the trial for a man’s life, especially the life of God’s own Son, but nonetheless they followed the rules.
Quick note: Too often “religious” people attack others, arguing over their religion and church and its plans, over ceremonies, rituals, rules, regulations, and practices. They forget the MEAT of the truth: love, joy, peace, care, understanding, and ministry. (Side notes on Pilate, if needed).
READ 29-32. The first thing Pilate did was hear the charges of Jesus’ accusers. The religionists were full of hatred and pride. We know they rejected Jesus and set themselves up as judges. They felt their verdict and judgment shouldn’t be questioned.
Pilate tried to evade his responsibility. The hearts of the religionists were closed; and that was their problem. They were mentioning death even before the trial.
The Jews had to force the Romans to crucify Jesus, because the Jews weren’t allowed to execute a criminal on the Sabbath or on feast days. From God’s perspective, it had been prophesied that the Christ was to be crucified, and crucifixion was the method of execution used by the Romans. So events had to be providentially shifted so there could be a Roman execution by crucifixion.
READ 33-38. The next thing Pilate did was to hear Jesus’ defense. Note Jesus’ challenge to Pilate in v. 34. In judging Jesus, a person is responsibility for his own verdict. Everyone has to make his own choice. Everyone must proclaim that either Jesus IS or IS NOT the King of the Jews.
Jesus tells Pilate His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is heaven.
READ 38-40. Pilate’s third move was back to the people. He wanted to clear Jesus’ name and to declare His innocence. Pilate hoped to satisfy the Jews’ cry for blood by substituting a real criminal and revolutionary for Jesus, but the Jewish leaders were determined to murder Jesus. So they chose a man of worldly power and fame over the Man of peace.
READ 19: 1-3. Pilate’s fourth move was back to Jesus. He had Jesus flogged. Flogging - Jesus was stripped and beaten with a whip. The whip was made of leather straps with two small balls attached to the end of each strap. The balls were made of rough lead or sharp bones or spikes so that they would cut deeply into the flesh. Jesus’ hands were tied to a post above His head, and He was flogged. It was the Roman custom for the prisoner to be lashed by the presiding centurion until He was near death (Jewish trials allowed only forty lashes.) The prisoner’s back was nothing more than an unrecognizable mass of torn flesh when they were through.
This is how the world treated Jesus and that same treatment is heaped upon Jesus by men of every generation. People persecute and attack, crudely mock and scoff at His name, His person, and His Word. They heap mistreatment upon His followers. What I’m saying is that people live hypocritical lives, professing to know and follow Him: but when out in the world, they live as the world.
READ 4-7. Pilate’s 5th move is back again to the people. He offered a compromise. Pilate was hoping the crowd would pity Jesus when they saw Him so beaten, battered, and bloodied. He hoped the flogging would serve as a compromise and satisfy them.
Compromise isn’t the way with Jesus. Pilate needed to declare him innocent because Jesus wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing. But the Jews charged Jesus with claiming to be the Son of God. That was their grounds to have Jesus crucified.
READ 8-11. Pilate’s 6th move was back again to Jesus. He investigated the possibility of a supernatural being. Note Pilate’s fear.
History tells us that Pilate was an extremely superstitious man. When he hears that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he thought Jesus was claiming to be the son of a god. The picture in his mind was that of a half-god and half-man, a god like being that filled the popular literature and beliefs of that day. The possibility of his condemning a god struck fear in Pilate.