On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Aug. 10, 2014
Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.” But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15:1-5, NIV)
Jesus faced four judicial events in the morning before He was crucified.
The first came from the religious leadership. The effort to push Jesus to the cross did not come from the Jewish people themselves. The masses supported Jesus and that is why the religious authorities were not willing to risk arresting Him openly. Those responsible for pushing Jesus toward the cross were from the corrupt religious establishment.
Luke’s Gospel provides additional detail about the preliminary hearing before the chief priests, elders, scribes and the Sanhedrin. Their concern was a religious one: “If you are the Christ, tell us.” Jesus initially did not answer their question directly except to say they would not believe Him if He told them, and that “from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” So they asked a second time, “Are you then the Son of God?” Jesus answered, “I am” (see Luke 22:66-71).
The first arraignment before religious authorities confirmed in their minds that Jesus had committed the sin of blasphemy. Their problem was that blasphemy was not an indictable offense under Roman law, and only Rome had the power to put to death an individual who committed a capital offense.
Thus, Jesus next is handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. The charge they bring against Jesus before Pilate is not, “He claims to be the Son of God.” Rather, they accuse Jesus of political sedition in opposing payment of taxes to Caesar and claiming to be king (Luke 23:2).
Pilate lasers in on the issue of Jesus claiming to be the king of the Jews. Jesus gives a short response to the indictment, “Yes, it is as you say.” In legal terms, this is an admission against self-interest. Jesus’ statement is enough to convict Him. Pilate, however, does nothing. Apprehensive lest Jesus is released, the religious leadership presses their case accusing Jesus of “many things.”
Jesus goes silent when asked to respond further, and Pilate is amazed. He had sat in judgment on many others whom he put to death, but never one like Jesus who remained calm and declined to defend himself.
Luke’s Gospel tells us that upon learning Jesus was a Galilean, Pilate sent Him over to Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee who executed John the Baptist. Herod was in Jerusalem for the Passover.
Jesus refuses to speak with Herod in the third arraignment of the day. Herod mocks Him by dressing Jesus in an elegant robe and sends Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:5-12). The fourth arraignment of the morning — again before Pilate — results in the death sentence.
What’s the lesson for us? People who claim to be religious can do terrible things. Perhaps there are those who you thought were spiritual, but subsequently they negatively impacted you by their evil example. Don’t let their bad behavior influence you away from God. Focus instead on the goodness of Jesus.
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark