Summary: This account of the decision that Pilate made concerning Jesus has much to that it may be saying to us about decision making.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 64
“The Importance of Making a Decision”
Jesus had just emerged at dawn from his religious trial before the Sanhedrin in which his admission that he was the Son of God had enraged the members to call for his death. But they lacked the power to carry out this sentence and therefore had to present him to the Roman authorities and ask that the sentence be carried out. The Jewish leaders had arrested Jesus on theological grounds – blasphemy (that he had dared to call himself the son of God) – but because this charge would be thrown out of a Roman court, they had to come up with a political reason for executing Jesus. Their strategy was to present him as a rebel who told the people not to pay their taxes and who claimed to be a king and thus was a threat to Caesar. This was all lies of course but then charges don’t have to be true.
In verse one of Chapter twenty-three we read, “Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. (2) And they began to accuse Him saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He himself is Christ, a king.” (3) Then Pilate asked Him, saying, Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”
So Pilate asks Jesus, “Are you really the king of the Jews?” (v. 3). This question is included in all four of the gospel accounts and in all four the word “you” is emphatic. Luke as is his custom abbreviates the story. According to John (18:33-38) Jesus explained to Pilate in what sense he was indeed a king, not a political sense but in a real spiritual sense, he was and is king over all those who claim Him as the shepherd of their souls.
Acceptance or rejection of Jesus as your king is still the real dividing line even today. You can walk into virtually any room in America and ask, “Do you believe in God?” and expect to get an answer in the affirmative. But if you push it a bit and go on to ask, “And do believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the Only means of going to heaven?” then you will quickly sense an altogether different atmosphere.
But the religious leaders would not let it go and they responded in verse four, “So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” (5) But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people teaching throughout all Judea, beginning in Galilee to this place.”
Tonight I want to examine this account of the decision that Pilate made concerning Jesus to see what it may be saying to us about decision making.
First, Passing off a problem for some one else to handle is not handling a problem. (vv. 6-7) “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. (7) As soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, He sent Him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time.”
Then acting as we often do, Pilate attempted to avoid making a decision. When he heard that Jesus was a Galilean that was all he needed to hear, he said in effect, “Oh! So He is a Galilean?” That made Jesus Herod’s responsibility, so let him hear the case. So Jesus is sent to Herod’s palace.
One can almost see Pilate congratulating himself for getting rid of this thorny problem so easily. Not only had he managed to pawn the problem off on someone else, in this case Herod, it was someone he did not particularly like anyway.
How fortunate it was that Herod was also in Jerusalem at this season, so let Herod handle the worries about what to do with this Jesus fellow.
Passing off a problem for some one else to handle is not handling a problem and …
Secondly, Invariably the problem we refuse to deal will come back to haunt us.
In verses (vv. 8-10) is an account of Jesus’ time before Herod. It seems that Herod has had all the chance he is ever going to have to hear the truth. Jesus had nothing to say in answer to Herod’s questions nor does he perform any miracles to amuse him. So we are told in verse eleven, “Then Herod, with all his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe and sent Him back to Pilate.”
It would seem from reading verse thirteen as well as the parallel accounts that when Jesus is returned to Pilate, that Pilate took Jesus aside to determine his guilt or innocence. “Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, (14) said to them, “You have brought this man to me, as one who mislead the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; (15) no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him, (16) I will therefore chastise Him and release Him” (17) (for it was necessary for him to release one of them at the feast). (18) And they all cried out at once, saying, “Away with this Man, and release to us Barabbas” – (19) who had been thrown into prison for a certain rebellion made in the city, and for murder.”