Sermons

Summary: Pilate was convinced that Jesus was not worthy of crucifixion, but he compromised and sent Jesus to the cross anyway, and by that choice he went from a hero to a zero in the history of Christianity.

Pilate was appointed procurator of Judea in A.D. 26, which was only about 3 years

before the crucifixion of Christ, but already he had so much trouble with the Jews that he

despised them. When he first came to Jerusalem he discovered that it was about the only

city in the whole Roman Empire that did not have an image of the Emperor. He did not

realize how the Jews hated idols, and how they would rather die than bow down to one.

In his ignorance he sent a guard to set up images on a tower overlooking the temple. He

had enough sense to do it at night, but when it was discovered in the morning, the angry

Jews began to stream out of Jerusalem toward the palace of Pilate. By the time they got

there they had gathered seven thousand people and completely surrounded the palace.

The people sent Pilate their request to remove the images, but he refused, and so

they camped there for 6 days. Every time Pilate looked out he saw seven thousand Jews

praying that God would change His mind. Finally, he told them to go to the marketplace

and he would speak to them. Then he ordered his soldiers to surround the marketplace.

He then gave them a warning that they either go home quietly or the whole lot of them

would be killed. They said it was better to die than have images in Jerusalem. This called

Pilate's bluff, and he knew if he began his career there by killing thousand of unarmed

Jews he would soon be back in Rome. He had to give in and order the idols removed. He

despised the Jews for winning this battle and forcing him to be humiliated.

On another occasion he tried to rob the temple treasury and started a riot. Many

Jews were killed by his soldiers. On a third occasion he tried to bring in shields with

pagan gods on them, but again the Jews won out by writing to Caesar. He rebuked

Pilate, and so with this as a background we can better understand the attitude and action

of Pilate when Jesus is brought before him. First we see-

I. PILATE'S CONCERN. v. 28-32

Pilate was suspicious from the start. In the first place he could not stand their smug

self-righteousness. They would not come into his judgment hall less they be defiled, but

they could plan a cruel murder and think nothing of it. The letter of the law was

everything to them, but the spirit of it was nothing. Pilate knew they were up to no good,

but he went out to them and asked what they charged Jesus with. The Jews had no love

for him either, and so they said, "If He wasn't guilty we would not have brought Him to

you." They were saying this is none of your business. We only come to you to get your

order to crucify Him.

In verse 31 Pilate shows he is not to be outwitted. He says, "That is just fine. If you

don't need to tell me anything, then you take care of it yourself and judge Him by your

own law." That was a victory for Pilate, for he knew he had them there. They had to

admit it and confess that they could not put a man to death without his permission. Pilate

would have been glad to see them try, for then he would have Rome behind him while he

satisfied his thirst for revenge against them. They knew this, of course, and so they

obeyed the law of Rome that forbid them to practice capital punishment without

permission.

Pilate was concerned also because he knew they were charging Jesus with treason.

Luke tells us that they said he claims to be a king, and if you do not try Him, you are no

friend of Caesar. Pilate had to consider this charge, for if news ever got back to Rome,

he would be in serious trouble. He knew, however, that this was not the real reason they

wanted Jesus crucified. He knew they were envious. They hated Rome and would be

glad to see someone overthrow it. When Jesus was only a boy Judas the Galilean started

a rebellion, and all of Galilee was in a uproar. Many of the Pharisees joined him. It was

soon crushed by the Romans, but it showed that the Pharisees hated the Romans, and so

Pilate was very suspicious of their charge. Pilate was cruel, but he did have a typical

Roman concern for justice, and so he determined to examine the prisoner.

II. PILATE'S CONVICTION. v. 33-38

When Jesus was brought into Pilate the first question he asked Him was, "Art thou

the king of the Jews?" Jesus had to be very cautious here, and so He answers by asking

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