THE TRIAL ENDS - GUILTY?
Tonight we are going to continue our study in Mark chapter 15, but before we look at Mark, turn to Luke chapter 23, for Luke fills in for us some more details of this trial before Pilate. In Luke 23:13-15 we read "Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, said to them, You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads 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; no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him."
Pilate comes out before the Jewish religious leaders with his view of the situation. You see, he was the judge over this case and his decision was final. And as he looked at the evidence he found Jesus innocent of the charges against Him. Even Herod could find no wrong in Jesus. That is an amazing statement for the trial should have been over at this point and Jesus set free! The problem here is these religious leaders who refused to go into the Praetorium or the Judgment Hall because it would defile them, are calling for the crucifixion of an innocent man! And for Pilate, who is worried about his position, already having two strikes against him with Rome, is going to do things he might not normally do to save himself and his position.
Thus, in Luke 23:16 we read "I will therefore chastise Him and release Him." In other words he would have Jesus beaten, which would make the crowds feel better, and then he would release Him. And he then would be in good with the people. But keep in mind Jesus was innocent, He did not deserve this. And what we learn from this is the end never justifies the means, you never do something wrong thinking the end result will make it right, it wont! Not for Pilate and not for you!
And understand that Roman scourging was deadly. They would tie you to a post and with a cat of nine tails, which had on the ends of it pieces of bone and metal, and as they struck the persons skin with this, it would rip the skin open. And with these blows they would start out lite, and with each succeeding blow it would get harder and harder until you confess the crime you committed and then they would ease up. You could get 40 lashes by these torturers! And it was so bad that 60% of the people that were scourged died at the scourging post. So a prisoner would want to confess quickly of what he did, and even if he didnt do anything just to get out of this torture. This was the third degree to the extreme!
Now we will pick-up our story back in Mark chapter 15, beginning in verse 6.
1. At this point the crowds request that one of the prisoners be released as was done by Pilate as sort of a good will gesture on this feast day. And Pilate may have been encouraged for a time, thinking this was his out, he could release Jesus and let this innocent man go. He was the judge, he was to do what was right, but as we will see, it is going to be much harder than he thought! Sometimes doing what is right is like that, but dont give up, do what is right no matter how difficult it may be, for God will honor that in your life.
2. Barabbas, a prisoner, was caught trying to overthrow the government, he was a robber, and he was a murderer. So it did seem obvious who should be set free and who should be put to death.
3. Now there is one thing I want to share with you and have you think about before we move on. Barabbas means "son of the father." We are going to see the son of the father set free, even though he was guilty and did not deserve to be set free. On the other hand, Jesus, the Son of God, will be crucified, even though He was innocent and did not deserve to be put to death. Does that sound familiar? It should, for that is what Jesus did for each of us, He took our place to die for our sins so we can be set free! It is as Jesus said in John 8:36, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."
1. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and the only reason they wanted Jesus dead was because the religious leaders were jealous of Him. And because of this jealousy they wanted an innocent man who kept blessing the people, to die! Envy, jealousy is an ugly monster, dont feed it for it will control you and consume you!
2. Now as Pilate gives them the choice of who to set free, as he is waiting for their decision, we are told in Matthew 27:19-23, "While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him. But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said to them, Which of the two do you want me to release to you? They said, Barabbas! Pilate said to them, What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said to him, Let Him be crucified! Then the governor said, Why, what evil has He done? But they cried out all the more, saying, Let Him be crucified!"
Pilates wife came to him to warn him to wash his hands of Jesus, let Him go, because of a dream she had regarding Him. Now as he listened to his wife, the religious leaders were stirring up the people to have Barabbas released and Jesus put to death. And their strong arm tactics, their influence worked beautifully. And Pilate, thinking he had a great plan, cant believe his ears, for they are asking for Barabbas to be released. Think about that for a minute. The ones who were charging Jesus with an insurrection against Rome were now calling for the release of a man who was guilty of causing a insurrection against Rome! My how sin blinds us!
3. Again this shows how weird this trial was, you see, Pilate was in charge, he was the judge, and he is asking the people what he should do! Pilate was trying to be a people pleaser and he was going to fail, he was going to find out you cant please people and win, you must serve God, you must be obedient to Him!
4. Now let me throw the question out to you that Pilate threw out to the people, "What shall you do with Jesus who is called Christ or the Messiah?" Are you for Him or are you against Him? You cant avoid the issue and if you try to, you have already decided. And understand that what you decide will not affect Jesus, He is still God no matter what you say. But, depending on your decision you will either spend eternity with Him or apart from Him.
1. It almost seems that the crowd was going to let Jesus go until these religious leaders stirred them up and changed their minds. And they will continue to move in a direction that is nothing more than a mob mentality, it will get ugly!
1. Notice how quickly things changed. Now they are yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs for Jesus to be crucified. They will settle for nothing less than that!
2. Look at Luke 23:20-23. It says "Pilate, therefore, wishing to release Jesus, again called out to them. But they shouted, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him! Then he said to them the third time, Why, what evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go. But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed." Pilate knows he is in trouble here. Jesus is innocent and to put him to death would make him an unrighteous judge, he could get in trouble with Rome for what he was doing. But to let Him go would send his political career into the toilet for sure. He could hear the flush begin!
3. Notice what Pilate does in John 19:1-5, "So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. Then they said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they struck Him with their hands. Pilate then went out again, and said to them, Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him. Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, Behold the Man!"
Pilate has Jesus scourged, beaten, and then he presents Him before the people saying, "Behold the man!" In other words, this is no king, He is just a man, look at Him. And as Jesus stood there beaten and bloodied Pilate hoped the crowds would have compassion on Jesus and let Him go.
But that did not happen, for in John 19:6 we are told "Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him! Pilate said to them, You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." They were not softened by what they saw but even grew colder and more ugly, crying out for this innocent man to be put to death. At this point Pilate wants nothing to do with this and he tells them to crucify Him. I think it was just out of frustration on his part for he knew that Rome would not allow the Jews to put anyone to death.
Again, in John 19, lets read verses 7-8, where we are told "The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid." Pilate is a little nervous now, what if Jesus is the Son of God? The Romans did believe in many gods. In fact, Pilate never saw any man take what Jesus took, being totally innocent of the charges. And out of fear and frustration we read in John 19:9-10, "and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, Where are You from? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" Pilate wants to know what is going on here and he demands that Jesus answer him for Pilate thought he was in control, but he was never in control as John 19:11 tells us, "Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." Jesus turns the tables on Pilate and tells him that he is not in control, his life is in the hands of God. But, from a human perspective it would seem that Pilate had the upper hand, but he didnt!
Again in John 19, verse 12 tells us "From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar." Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go, for He was innocent. But the Jews tighten their grip on Pilate by telling him if he lets Jesus go, he is going against Caesar, and they will turn him in, strike three, youre out! His job, his career in politics would be over.
John continues in verse 13, "When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar! Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away." John 19:13-16. This is fascinating to me. They say "We have no king but Caesar!" My question is "What about God?" In Matthew 12:37 we read "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." And here we do see their own words condemn them!
4. Understand this, everyone knows the truth, Jesus is innocent. Caiaphas sells out because of envy, Pilate because of his job, and the people out of peer pressure. It is now 6 AM and then by 9 AM Jesus will be on the cross of Calvary, and by 3 PM He will have given up His spirit and died!
1. Pilate wanted to please the people instead of doing what was right. He even tried to wash his hands of the whole thing, but you cant wash your hands of guilt. He was responsible for his actions. In Matthew 27:24-25 we read "When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it. And all the people answered and said, His blood be on us and on our children." We talked about Pilate trying to wash his hands of his responsibility, but we also see that the Jews were responsible. They cried that His blood be upon them and their children, and it was! Jesus said in Luke 19:42-44, "saying, If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
And in 70 AD Titus and the Roman army came in and destroyed Jerusalem, killing millions of Jews, just as Jesus said, all because they rejected Jesus, and thus, the blood they shed was truly upon them and their children!
1. That is all we hear of Pilate. He avoided the issue and now paid the penalty for his non-action, for not doing what was right. He sought after position, popularity, and in the end, he was nothing! Dont do the same, put Jesus first in your life!
2. Here we see the soldiers mock Jesus, spit on Him, and beat Him, and in verse 20 of Mark chapter 15 we read "And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him." Jesus is on the way to Golgotha for us!