Pilate Questions Jesus
(Matthew 27.1,2,11-14; Luke 23.1-5; John 18.28-38)
1Early the next morning the chief priests, the nation's leaders, and the teachers of the Law of Moses met together with the whole Jewish council. They tied up Jesus and led him off to Pilate.
2He asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words,” Jesus answered.
3The chief priests brought many charges against Jesus. 4Then Pilate questioned him again, “Don't you have anything to say? Don't you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 5But Jesus did not answer, and Pilate was amazed.
The Death Sentence
(Matthew 27.15-26; Luke 23.13-25; John 18.39—19.16)
6During Passover, Pilate always freed one prisoner chosen by the people. 7And at that time there was a prisoner named Barabbas. He and some others had been arrested for murder during a riot. 8The crowd now came and asked Pilate to set a prisoner free, just as he usually did.
9Pilate asked them, “Do you want me to free the king of the Jews?” 10Pilate knew that the chief priests had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.
11But the chief priests told the crowd to ask Pilate to free Barabbas.
12Then Pilate asked the crowd, “What do you want me to do with this man you say is the king of the Jews?”
13They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
14Pilate asked, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.
15Pilate wanted to please the crowd, so he set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.
I recently attended a gripping and all too realistic live production portraying the Easter story. As I watched the crazed crowds screaming for Jesus’ crucifixion spit and hiss on my beloved, bloodied Saviour, something horrified me. The crowd contained exactly the same cast of people who, earlier in the production, had cheered and waved branches as they welcomed their “Saviour” into Jerusalem.
From jubilant welcome to jeering condemnation. What happened?
Someone has said that the most dangerous border on earth is the one running down the centre of the human heart. The border that, when crossed, can make deserters out of disciples, murderers out of mothers, heartless killers out of doctors, and radicals out of moderates.
The horrifying resurgence of crucifixions and beheadings as a means of terror, torture and punishment by Islamic jihadists has shocked and revulsed the civilized world. We turn from our screens, heart-sick and nauseous, at photos of beheadings and childrens’ bodies slung from crosses.
What kind of animals are these people, we ask? The kind of people Jesus loved and died for – anyway. People with partitioned hearts. Suffused with the cold-blooded hatred of the same fallen angel who cheered at the crucifixion of our Saviour. Satan, whose vile mission to blacken the Light has already been lost.
For most of us a divided heart brings less obvious, but no less dangerous deviations. The phrase “uncommitted Christian” is as oxymoronic a phrase as “a little bit pregnant.” Only by giving Jesus Christ complete dominion, by digging deeply into the Word and relying on the Holy Spirit to mature and guide us, do we have the gift of divine strength to resist constant Enemy recruitment – and become dangerous to that Enemy.
King of hearts, I invite the searchlight of your Holy Spirit to sweep through mine. Reveal and tear down any well-concealed partitions that hinder my commitment to love, follow and obey. And charge me with fresh enthusiasm to serve you now and always.