On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
Aug. 24, 2014
“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:12-15, NIV)
Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane the night before came not from the Romans, but from a crowd armed with swords and clubs sent by the religious leaders. They had no authority to condemn Jesus to death so they brought Him to Pilate.
Pilate didn’t want to make a decision. He hemmed and hawed. Upon hearing that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus over to Herod Antipas, the murderer of John the Baptist (Luke 23:6-12). Next, Pilate’s wife warned him not to have anything to do with Jesus (Matthew 27:19). Finally, Pilate tried to get out of sentencing Jesus by proposing that the crowd in front of him choose a prisoner to be released.
When the crowd asked for Barabbas, Pilate then insulted them. He asked, “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” In fact, the crowd before him and the religious leadership egging them on had never called Jesus “king of the Jews.” In using the term, Pilate mocked them. Essentially he was saying, “If you have a king, this is what he looks like. Powerless.”
The crowd ignored the insult and shouted, “Crucify him.” Pilate still vacillated and asked, “What crime has he committed?” Clearly, Pilate — as the administrator of Roman justice — had no business sentencing a man to crucifixion without even knowing the crime he had committed.
Pilate, however, had a troubled history with the Jews. He was thinking, They could get me in trouble with Caesar by alleging that I refused to deal with a threat to the security of Rome. So, when they shouted all the more, “Crucify him,” Pilate gave in.
Matthew’s Gospel gives this additional detail: “All the people answered, ‘Let his blood be on us and on our children’” (27:25). That statement has led to much misinterpretation and tragically has led some so-called Christians to assume that henceforth and forever all Jewish persons were under a curse and are collectively responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.
Such is not the case. This crowd had no authority, under God, to speak for anyone but themselves. The masses clearly adored Jesus as is seen in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the fact that the religious leaders were so afraid of Jesus’ popularity they arranged for a stealthy arrest at night and a quick and illegal trial. The crowd who shouted that day had no authority to bind their children or subsequent generations of Jewish people.
No, the Jews did not kill Christ. A cabal of conspiring religious authorities pushed a spineless Roman procurator into putting Jesus on the cross. The sin of Jew and Gentile alike is not believing in the One God sent to save us from our sins.
Pilate caved in. In an act of sheer cruelty, he ordered Jesus flogged. The leather ends of Roman whips were affixed with small pieces of metal that flayed the skin. Jesus sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane. Now, His wounds begin for our transgressions.
A prayer of response
DR. GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark