We join Jesus before Pilate today. He was brought here from the council of the Sanhedrin. They had just rubber stamped the “trial” from the night before. They wanted the Romans to carry out sentence on Jesus, so here we stand, in front of Pilate.
We looked at this scene in Matthew and Mark’s gospels too. We will visit it one more time in John’s gospel. In Matthew we put ourselves in the scene at Jesus’ trial before Pilate. In Mark we looked at the illegality of this portion of Jesus trial and commented on the fact that Pilate was amazed by Jesus’ composure. I honestly don’t know where to go with our study today, so I’m simply going to talk about some of the phrases that I find interesting in Luke’s account. We will let God lead us from there, as He so often does.
I want to laugh at the first statement cited for their accusation: “We found this man” (verse 2a). Really? They just “found” Him? Was He hiding? Nope. Jesus Himself commented on the fact that they could have tried to take Him at any time while He was teaching in the temple. Instead, I seem to remember them plotting to catch Him. Enter lie number one, for this portion anyway.
The next part of their accusation was that He was “misleading our nation” (verse 2b). They were the ones misleading the nation. Teaching the laws of man in the place of God’s laws. Heaping on the people burdens so cumbersome that no one could bear them. Jesus was engaged in correcting this path the religious leaders set the people on. But in correcting the path, the focus and power would be drawn away from the very men present there that morning. They couldn’t have that happen! Lie number two in the span of less than 30 seconds.
So far nothing they have said is of any consequence to Pilate. To get Pilate to buy into their conspiracy they have to add another false charge to their list of lies. In the next breath they claimed Jesus was “forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar” (verse 2c). Maybe they weren’t listening when Jesus answered their question on paying taxes to Caesar. “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). In no way was He telling anyone to hold out on their taxes. He even had Peter “fish out” His temple tax. Lie number three.
We finally come to our first almost truth. They say that Jesus says “that He Himself is Christ, a king” (verse 2d). Jesus was and is Christ, THE King, but He didn’t proclaim it publically but once. This was the real charge they had against Him. I noticed that Pilate zeroed in on that portion too. He didn’t even bother with the other issues they raised. “Are you the King of the Jews?” (verse 3a).
I notice in my bible that Luke uses a different emphasis on the word king when used by the religious leaders and Pilate. The word king, with a little k is use by the religious leaders, where King with a capitol K is used by Pilate. I wonder if this was Pilate trying to goad the Jews. Because of his response about Jesus’ guilt we know he didn’t believe their charges.
This question is the only one Jesus answered. But even in His answer He didn’t give the religious leaders what they were looking for. He could have very rightly said, “Yes. I am.” This would have been the absolute truth, but instead He said, “You have said so” (verse 3b). Had Pilate been secretly following the teaching of Jesus? Did Pilate believe?
Pilate didn’t want any part in their plan. He was trying his best to get out of it. When they brought up the fact that Jesus’ teaching covered the territory of Galilee he jumped at the opening. Jesus wasn’t providing answers to Pilate’s questions so he asked the religious leaders if Jesus was a Galilean. I don’t think they had any idea why he asked this question of them so they answered truthfully. Pilate thought he was off the hook because now he could defer this whole matter to Herod. Herod was actually in town and could deal with this group and their pack of lies.
Father God, I sometimes feel sorry for Pilate. He really didn’t want any part in this drama, but Your plan required his involvement. He tried everything he could to get out of this trap, EXCEPT for saying “NO.” Pilate saw through the religious leaders’ lies, but he lacked the courage to simply tell them he wouldn’t play their game. He started with an attempt to pass the buck, then he compromised. In the end, he will do exactly as the religious leaders demand.
Father God, I have compromised in areas too at times. Thinking that giving in just a little won’t hurt and it might save the relationship. But when you KNOW what you are agreeing to is wrong to begin with, it makes the whole process unhealthy. Kind of like trying to build on a Jell-O foundation. Sooner or later the structure is going to tumble.
I wonder if Pilate asked for forgiveness. That’s really the only way to rescue a Jell-O founded tower. I have to bring my compromise to You and ask for Your forgiveness. I then have to follow through on whatever it is You tells me to do to correct the situation. Sometimes it is walk away and other times You pours a firm foundation in place of the one I had laid. Whatever You tell me to do is ALWAYS best and I have to get on board with Your plan. Sometimes I want out as bad as Pilate did, but YOUR plans always prevail. Help me see Your plans clearly and follow them!