SUGGESTED SCRIPTURE READING- Mark 15: 1-20
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. 2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.” You have said so,” Jesus replied. 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” 5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15: 1-5.
Pilate belonged to a special group of imperial administrators under Tiberius Caesar; he was a prefect, or governor of Judaea. Of the four Gospel writers, Mark has the distinction of offering the shortest account of Jesus’ trial before him.
John describes the longest and most detailed of our Lord’s hearing before Pilate; different in some details, yet, in perfect harmony. In John, we see an increasing sense of awe and dread on the part of Pilate. You can see some of that in the focal passage at the top of this page, but not to the extent that John describes.
John records a sort of conversation between Jesus and Pilate. In the other Gospels, Jesus says almost nothing, either to the Jews, to Pilate or to Herod. In John’s account, Jesus and Pilate do have a conversation of sorts. There is no contradiction here, however. When Jesus refuses to speak, it is (1) because the law does not require Him to testify against Himself, and (2) because He refuses to defend Himself. When Jesus refused to speak, it was when He was in the presence of the Jews. When Jesus did speak with Pilate, it was inside his residence, where the Jews would not enter. The conversation was not of His guilt or innocence, but about His identity and His mission. It almost seems evangelistic.
Jesus had been brought to Pilate and falsely accused of treason against Rome and against Caesar, for claiming to be a king. Thus Pilate’s question…he’s looking for something with which to hang Him. In today’s language, the conversation might have gone something like this:
“Are you really the King of the Jews? “ Jesus answered, ”Are you asking me this on your own, or because of something someone told you?” Pilate quickly replies, “I’m not a Jew am I? Your own people and priests have brought you in here”. Jesus answered, “Pilate, I’m no threat to you. My kingdom is not an earthly one, this is not my home.” To which Pilate replied, “But you are a king, right?” Again, Jesus told him, “You say I’m a king, and that’s true. I was born for this…I came to testify to the truth. Everyone who knows me knows the truth”. Pilate’s answer is very telling…THEN and NOW, “What is truth?”
Notice that Pilate didn’t say “What is THE truth?”, but cynically, “what is truth?” Kind of what you expect from a crooked politician. The truth had been bent so many times in his life, it was probably hard to recognize.
Here is this week’s FIRST question: Can we recognize the truth when we see it?
Pilate had the truth right in front of him and could not. Many people today have the same problem. They hear the gospel presented, yet look the other way. Perhaps they think, “That was another day, another time. Yes, Jesus died, but what does that have to do with me? I’ve lived a pretty good life. I didn’t crucify Him, those people did.” Nothing could be farther from the TRUTH…My sins crucified Him…as did yours.
Pilate went so far as to wash his hands. Maybe it was a symbolic gesture, but the fact is he wanted nothing to do with Jesus.
Here are a couple of hard questions: Do you know anyone who has washed their hands of Jesus? Have you told them the TRUTH?