Pilate Questions Jesus
(Mark 15.2-5; Luke 23.3-5; John 18.33-38)
11Jesus was brought before Pilate the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“Those are your words!” Jesus answered. 12And when the chief priests and leaders brought their charges against him, he did not say a thing.
13Pilate asked him, “Don't you hear what crimes they say you have done?” 14But Jesus did not say anything, and the governor was greatly amazed.
The Death Sentence
(Mark 15.6-15; Luke 23.13-26; John 18.39—19.16)
15During Passover the governor always freed a prisoner chosen by the people. 16At that time a well-known terrorist named Jesus Barabbas was in jail. 17So when the crowd came together, Pilate asked them, “Which prisoner do you want me to set free? Do you want Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18Pilate knew the leaders had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous.
19While Pilate was judging the case, his wife sent him a message. It said, “Don't have anything to do with that innocent man. I have had nightmares because of him.”
20But the chief priests and the leaders convinced the crowds to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. 21Pilate asked the crowd again, “Which of these two men do you want me to set free?”
“Barabbas!” they shouted.
22Pilate asked them, “What am I to do with Jesus, who is called the Messiah?”
They all yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”
23Pilate answered, “But what crime has he done?”
“Nail him to a cross!” they yelled even louder.
24 Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do and that the people were starting to riot. So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them and said, “I won't have anything to do with killing this man. You are the ones doing it!”
25Everyone answered, “We and our own families will take the blame for his death!”
26Pilate set Barabbas free. Then he ordered his soldiers to beat Jesus with a whip and nail him to a cross.
This scene is filled with tension. Jesus has been brought to Pilate for sentencing since the Jewish leaders could not pronounce the death penalty. Pilate is curious because this message from his wife that she has had a dream and urges him to absolve himself from this case because the prisoner is an innocent men (19).Pilate has come to this conclusion himself and has tried to substitute another prisoner Barabbas but the leaders will have none of this. Pilate then takes a bowl of water and washes his hands and declares he is innocent. He then declares, “It is your responsibility” (24).The reality here is that Pilate is anything but innocent and the decision is his responsibility.
We too are faced with difficult decisions and know in our hearts what to do but it is easy to evade responsibility and say it is not our problem. We handle an assignment at the office improperly and blame a subordinate for the mistake. A student claims he could not get his paper in on time because his computer broke down when the reality is that he is guilty of procrastination and there is no problem with his machine. A wife tells her husband she overspent the budget and she had no other choice because prices these day are so high but the truth was she purchased a number of unnecessary items. In each case the person says, “It’s not my responsibility”.
We often make choices that go against our conscience for the same reason Pilate did. We are pressured by other people. Other co-workers may pressure a salesperson to lie about product. A husband may pressure a wife to do something unethical. What decisions am I wrestling with today? May God help us to make the right choice.
Heavenly Father, I thank you that you are a God of truth. As your Son always spoke the truth, help me to do the same and when I have a decision to make, may I accept responsibility for my actions. Amen.