Jun. 11. Jesus Faces a Roman Trial

Mt. 27:11-30; Mk. 15:2-19; Lk. 23:2-25; Jn. 18:28-19:16

Upon delivering Jesus to Pontius Pilate at the Praetorium, Pilate asked about the crime this Man had done.

The Praetorium was the palace of a provincial governor. It contained the living quarters and judgment seat of Pilate.

Since it was the Passover, the Jews did not go inside the Praetorium because upon entering a Gentile’s home, they would have become ceremonially unclean for seven days.

At first, the Jews evaded Pilate’s question by saying, “If He were not an evil doer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.”

They were attempting to get Pilate to accept that Jesus was worthy of death and to execute Him without a trial. This would have assured that He would have been put to death for blasphemy. Pilate told the Jews to take Jesus and try Him under their own law.

The Jews then brought up the charge of insurrection—that Jesus claimed to be King of the Jews. In order to press this charge, they accused Him of perverting the nation (vague), forbidding paying taxes to Caesar (completely false) and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King (True, but only in a spiritual sense).

Pilate called for Jesus to be brought inside the Praetorium for private questioning. He began by asking, “Are you King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “It is as you say.”

Pilate was perplexed and asked Jesus, “What have You done?”

After Jesus had explained that His kingdom was not of this world or His servants would have fought to protect Him, Pilate asked again if He were a king.

Jesus replied that He was and that He came into the world to bear witness of the truth. Pilate asked, “What is truth?”

Without waiting for an answer, Pilate concluded that Jesus was no threat to the Roman government and went back outside to the Jews. He stated, “I find no fault in this Man.”

The chief priests began again to accuse Jesus of many things, but He did not answer any of their charges. His passiveness amazed Pilate and he tried to get Him to defend Himself.

Pilate was in a difficult position. As a judge, he wanted to release Jesus, but as a politician, he wanted to please the people and keep the peace.

The Jews said, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place.”

When Pilate learned that Jesus was a Galilean, he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction. Herod was in Jerusalem to gain favor with the Jews by showing respect for their Passover.

Since he and Herod were not at peace with one another, Pilate thought that sending Jesus to him would improve their relationship.

Herod was exceedingly glad to meet Jesus, for he had wanted to see Him for a long time. He had heard many things about Him and he had hoped to see Him perform a miracle.

Jesus did not answer the many questions that Herod asked Him.

The chief priests and scribes continued to press hard with their charges.

Being displeased with the reaction of Jesus, Herod and his soldiers began to mistreat and to mock Him. He then returned Him to Pilate.

Even though Herod was disappointed in his meeting with Jesus, he and Pilate became good friends after that.

Pilate desperately sought a solution to the dilemma he faced concerning Jesus and the Jews. He knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges against Him, but he wanted to please the Jews.

It was customary for the governor to release a prisoner each year at the Passover. He proposed a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, an insurrectionist, robber and murderer.

The Romans were greatly influenced by signs and dreams. Pilate’s wife urged him to have nothing to do with that just Man for she had suffered many things that day in a dream because of Him.

People, who did not know of the events of the night before, began to assemble and the chief priests and elders persuaded them to call for the release of Barabbas instead of Jesus. Pilate asked, “What shall I do with Jesus, who is called Christ?” What will WE “do with Jesus, who is called Christ?”

They replied, “Let Him be crucified!”

Pilate attempted three times to get them to allow him to release Jesus, but they repeatedly shouted out, “Crucify Him.”

At this point, Pilate decided to scourge Jesus and maybe that would satisfy the Jews. Scourging was a severe beating with whips that would sometimes tear the flesh from a person’s back.

After scourging Jesus, they placed a crown of thorns on His head and put on Him a purple robe of royalty in mockery of the King of the Jews. Pilate thought if he presented Jesus to the Jews in that wretched beaten condition, they would take pity and allow Him to be released.

The Jews said that Jesus should die because He made Himself to be the Son of God. Upon hearing that, Pilate took Jesus back inside the Praetorium and asked Him, “Where are You from?”

Jesus remained calm and did not say anything. His calm demeanor indicated to Pilate that He just might be the Son of God.

The Jews further stated to Pilate, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”

When Pilate asked if he should crucify their King, the Jews said, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Pilate attempted to justify his actions and to clear himself of the blood of the Son of God by washing his hands and declaring, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

The Jews replied, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

Pilate could have done the right thing, but instead, he released Barabbas and delivered Jesus to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

The “crime” that caused Jesus to be crucified was blasphemy—calling Himself the Son of God, but to make it legal for the Romans, He was actually executed as “King of the Jews.”

Today, the Jews still deny crucifying Jesus. They say that the Romans did so. This is true. However, they had it done, so they are as guilty of the murder of the Son of God as if they had actually physically done the deed themselves.