Summary: The story of Pilate’ face to face encounter with Jesus is presented as an encouragement to examine ourselves to see that we do not react to Jesus as Pilate did.
Pilate: Face to Face with Jesus
Intro: Pilate was procurator of Judea from about 27-37 AD. He was a ruler in a difficult land to rule. He hated the Jews and they hated him. After ten tumultuous years, Pilate was removed from office after he ordered the massacre of a group of Samaritans assembled at Mt. Gerazim. He was sent to Rome to answer charges made against him, but he never reached Rome. Some reports stated that he committed suicide.
This passage tells the story of Pontius Pilate when he comes face to face with Jesus. We will see in the beginning, Pilate’s contempt for the Jews and Jesus. Then his curiosity about Jesus and then his challenge of Jesus. We will see his attempt to compromise with the Jews about Jesus, and his consternation when he begins to realize whom Jesus might be. Finally, we will see his capitulation to the Jews in spite of his own conviction about Jesus’ innocence.
I. Contempt (Vss. 18:28-32)
It is early, before sunrise. Pilate had to go outside in the cold morning air because the Jews would not come inside.
A. (Vs. 29) Pilate growls out his opening question, “What’s your charge?”
B. (Vs. 30) The Jews respond sarcastically, “None of your business, just do your job!”
C. (Vs. 31) Pilate challenges the Jews, “Do it your selves . . . if you can.”
D. (Vs. 31) The Jews have to admit, “We are not allowed to execute.”
E. (Vs. 33) Pilate then turns and goes inside to interrogate Jesus.
II. Curiosity (Vss. 18:33-36)
A. (Vs. 33) Pilate, “Are YOU the king of the Jews?
B. (Vs. 34) Jesus, “Who asks the question? You are the Jews?”
C. (Vs. 35) Pilate, “I am not a Jew. They are the ones accusing you.”
D. (Vs. 36) Jesus, “I am a king, but not like you think. My kingdom is not earthly or physical. I do not rule politically. I am no threat to Rome.”
III. Challenge (18:37-38a)
A. (Vs. 37) Pilate, “So, YOU (a helpless prisoner) ARE a king.”
B. (Vs. 37) Jesus, “Yes, I was born a king. I was not appointed nor did I usurp the throne. I came into the world (from out of the world) to be a king. My task is to bear witness to the truth. My subjects are those who hear my voice, the voice of truth.”
C (Vs. 38a) Pilate, “WHAT IS TRUTH?”
Notice that Pilate was not answered. He did not ask the question to get an answer. He didn’t wait to get an answer. He didn’t expect an answer. He didn’t believe there was an answer.
IV. Compromise (Vss.18:38b-19:6)
Pilate begins to feel fear and uneasiness about punishing Jesus.
A. (Vs. 38-40) Attempt to release Jesus.
1. (Vs. 38) Pilate, “I find no guilt in this man.”
2. (Vs. 39) Pilate, “Shall I release your king?”
3. (Vs. 40) Jews, “BARABBAS!!!”
B. (Vs. 19:1-6) Attempt at milder punishment.
1. (Vs. 1-3) Pilate punishes Jesus (scourging, ridicule, display.).
2. (Vs. 4) Pilate, “I find no guilt in him.
3. (Vs. 5) Pilate, “Behold the man . . . just a man.”
4. (Vs. 6) Pilate, “Crucify him yourselves . . . if you can.”
5. (Vs. 6) Pilate, “I find no guilt in him.”
V. Consternation (fear) (19:7-12a)
A. (Vs. 7) Jews, “Our law says he ought to die because he claims to be the Son of God.” THE TRUTH AT LAST!
B. (Vs. 8) Pilate becomes more afraid. What if he WAS a god?
C. (Vs. 9) Pilate, “Where are you from?” . . . Jesus is silent.
D. (Vs. 10) Pilate, “How dare you not talk to me. Don’t you know who I am?”
E. (Vs. 11) Jesus, “The only authority you have is that which was given to you.”
1. From your emperor.
2. From God.
3. You can execute me only if God lets you!
4. You cannot take my life unless I let you.
5. You who presume to judge me stand in judgment by me. Yet your sin is less. You are acting within the authority given to you, but because you are condemning a man you know is innocent, you will be held accountable by God. The Jews have been given no such authority. You are acting at least partially in ignorance. The Jews have received knowledge but have rejected Jesus any.
6. (Vs. 12) As a result, Pilate was seeking to release Jesus. Before he had just tried to persuade the Jews to drop their charges and release Jesus. Now Pilate attempts to release Jesus on his own.
VI. Capitulation (19:12b-16)
A. (Vs. 12b) The Jews threaten Pilate, “We’re going to tell Caesar on you.”
B. The decision is clear to Pilate. He can save Jesus or he can save himself.