John 18:28-32 Expecting The Rubber Stamp

Pilate wasn’t the push over they expected

We join Jesus as He is brought before Pilate that fateful morning. Jesus is brought to Pilate expecting him to treat Jesus as cruelly as possible. They expected Pilate to “rubber stamp” their verdict of death. They planned on Pilate carrying out what they were unable to do; crucify Jesus.

I have been searching the web for information on Pilate and his character. What I have found leaves me a little curious. I had heard that Pilate was a cruel and ruthless ruler. He is reported to have been quick to judgement and sentenced many to death without evidence of wrong doing. Is this reputation what the Jews were counting on to get their way? He is also reported to have antagonized the Jewish leaders by bringing in “idols” or symbols of the Roman Empire. I wonder if his antagonism is a result of his confrontation with the Jews over Jesus.

We know that God’s plan called for Jesus to be crucified. Jewish law didn’t permit this so it was necessary to involve the Roman government, which used that very form of execution. Crucifixion didn’t originate with the Romans but they were the ones who employed it most fervently. Ever stop to think about God’s timing of sending Jesus? His plan required the Jews to be under a political system that would conform to His exacting standards and prophecies. He knew Rome would be in control for Jesus’ sacrifice. Talk about foreknowledge!

I find the Sanhedrin’s answer to Pilate’s question of charge against Jesus amusing. Pilate asks, “’What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered him, ‘If this Man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered Him over to you.’” (verses 29-30). In other words, “Trust us and simply give us what we ask for.”

Their initial answer to Pilate didn’t rise to what he considered a need for his services. “Doing evil” didn’t warrant Roman intervention. “Take Him yourselves and judge Him by your law” (verse 31).

I bet they wanted to yell, “Don’t you get it! We wouldn’t be here in this disgusting place if we didn’t need something from you! If we could do for ourselves what we want done we would have already done it.” Instead what they actually said revealed their true intentions. They weren’t looking for Pilate to judge Jesus fairly. They simply wanted him to agree to their verdict of death and carry out the sentence. They probably didn’t even want Pilate interviewing Jesus. They had already tried Him and found Him guilty. To them the rest was merely a formality that they had to go through. I doubt they expected any resistance from Pilate. Were they in for a surprise that morning!

It amazes me Lord how You know every detail in advance. How You share those details with us LONG before the time arrives. And how we STILL miss the significance of it until after all is said and done. You allowed Israel to be under Roman rule. You allowed the Romans to perfect the “art” of crucifixion. You even planted the tree that would one day become the cross. You waited for just the right time to place Jesus in Mary’s womb. Nothing was left to chance when it came to Your plan of salvation.

The same holds true today. Every event is already history to You for Jesus’ return. You provided signs for us to notice but You didn’t give us an exact time table. We only see the miracle of Your intervention from this side of Your promise. I’m sure we will probably have that same kind of view on the other side of Jesus’ return. “Of course. It makes perfect sense now. NO other time in history would have worked. The circumstances were exactly what was called for.”

In between the two promises we have the benefit of looking back and seeing Your faithfulness. That alone convinces me of Your ability to bring about the final half of Your promise at just the right time. Help me God with my patience in the in-between time. Help me with my attitude towards those who think they know for sure when that time will be. Let me show them Your love and Your word where it clearly says that NONE but YOU alone know the day and hour. Help me recognize but not fear the seasons and trust You with all of it.

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