Insert text here.
John 19:1-3, NIV 1Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.
March 10, 2012A lot has happened in a few brief hours. In John 18:6, the soldiers drew back and "fell to the ground" when Jesus spoke to the detachment who had come to arrest him. That was when they had no idea what to expect. But by now they have come to realize Jesus was not going to call down fire from heaven to protect himself. Underneath all the hype, Jesus was just like any other man--vulnerable. And so the soldiers became boldly abusive. Or maybe there was a changing of the guard, and the fresh troops were more rowdy than their previous counterparts. Once they got started, everything escalated. A Roman flogging was enough to kill someone, or at least render them helpless. The perpetrators came up with the crown of thorns idea. Someone wearing a crown needs a royal robe so they supplied that, too. Then they mocked Jesus and struck him repeatedly around the head and face. Jesus would have been very bloody by now. First from the flogging, then from the briars burrowing into his brow. He was pained in body, in soul and in spirit. No one came to his aid.I struggle with the crucifixion story. I don't want to believe that anyone can be so cruel. I don't want to believe that people can become so energized by the violence and continue to beat someone who is already down and unable to get back up. I don't ever want to see the face of someone so charged up that they will not stop.I do not understand the people who stand by and watch such behavior, especially those who have the influence and power to stop it but do nothing. I do not want to believe that I, too, could be cruel to another person, that I could become so callous and feel justified in that I am just doing my job and following the orders given to me.Pilate didn't agree with the Jewish officials that Jesus deserved to beput to death. So he ordered Jesus to be flogged, hoping that would satisfy them.
John 19:4-6, NIV 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, "Look, I am bringing him [Jesus] out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" 6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, "Crucify! Crucify!"
March 11, 2012Pilate's plan did not work. The word, bloodthirsty, comes to my mind. On Pilate's mind is the image of Jesus, so helpless and broken that he could not be a threat to anyone. Surely these religious leaders could see that. But no, they want more, much more. They want the final blow. They want Jesus to be dead. And not with a swift blow from a sharp sword, but by the most heinous means, crucifixion.Who is the more vile and vicious! To which characters in this crucifixion story does the word, bloodthirsty, really belong? John identifies them. It is the ones demanding that Jesus die. No one else understands their vehemence. I don't know if they understand it themselves. But it's building to such a crescendo they are about to explode. They will get what they want. They will persevere. They will wear Pilate down with their demands. They will get Jesus crucified.
John 19:6-7, NIVBut Pilate answered, "You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him." 7 The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God."
March 12, 2012Pilate told them, "You want Jesus crucified, you go and do it yourselves." They could have stoned Jesus to death, but a crucifixion was not allowed according to their Law. Such barbarism was Roman, it was not a part of Jewish culture. It's telling that these judges of Jesus wanted the gentile Romans to carry out their dirty work for them. These people who thought of themselves as special in God's sight, needed the "inferior" gentiles to carry out the judgment they prescribed. It wasa form of justice which made no sense to anyone but themselves.
Regarding the accusation that Jesus claimed go be the Son of God-- had Pilate never been told this before? Pilate was much more comfortable with Jesus as the King of Israel. Their king, not mine. Son of God was too much. Romans did not displease their gods. Gods were more powerful than man. Therefore they were respected, and feared. Pilate had no intention to order the death of any son of any god. Not yours, not mine.How did Pilate really feel about these Jewish leaders? How did the Jewish leaders really feel about Pilate? It was probably a mutual disdain.
John 19:8-11, NIV 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. "Where do you come from?" he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 "Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" 11 Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
March 18, 2012Here is the final conversation between Pilate and Jesus. Pilate is no longer certain he knows who he is talking to. The Jewish leaders had suggested that Jesus might be from the gods, and Pilate tried to get to the bottom of this claim. Evidently they didn't believe it. But it created doubts in Pilate's mind, and caution as to how he should proceed. Had Jesus wanted to live, here was his out. It's very likely Pilate would have let him go if Jesus had cooperated. But Jesus stood silent.
"Where do you come from?", Pilate wanted to know. Jesus refused to tell him. "How dare you treat me this way; don't you know I have the power to free you from all charges!"
As always in the Gospel accounts, Jesus got in the last word. He informed the Roman governor that he didn't really have any power over him! Because all power comes from heaven above. And then Jesus confided something to Pilate. He told him "those who handed me over to you" are more guilty of my death than you are! We do not know if Pilate took any comfort from these words or not. Is it comforting to be told that you are not as evil as someone else? Your sin is not as bad. You don't need to feel as guilty as those wicked fellows!
Remember, this is the same Jesus who said that if you call your brother a lying rascal, you are guilty of murder; just as if you lust after a person not your spouse, you are guilty of adultery. Degree of sin did not seem to matter to Jesus when he taught the people on that hillside in Galilee, yet here in this situation he told Pilate he was not as great a sinner as the fellows outside who were demanding his crucifixion.
John 19:12, NIV12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar."
March 19, 2012Ironically, Jesus best "friend" in this whole ordeal was not one of his brethren, but the topmost symbol of the foreign invader. Pilate had gone to great lengths to release Jesus. He did not want to pass the death sentence on a man who was innocent in his eyes. The Gospel writer adds detail after detail in order to show the reader that Pilate was more righteous than the governing religious authorities.
Their argument was quite persuasive. If Caesar heard that Pilate did not act decisively when he heard someone claimed to be a "king of the Jews", there could be severe consequences. Both to Pilate and the Jewish authorities. And surely Caesar has ears everywhere.
John 19:13-14, NIV13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge's seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour. "Here is your king," Pilate said to the Jews.
March 20, 2012In the end, it was Pilate's job to pass judgment. So he stepped out from his palace and sat down on the judgment seat. We can assume Jesus stood by his side. Was it fear of repercussions on Pilate's part? Did he just want to be done with this whole mess? He had been robbed of sleep. What was the use of prolonging the inevitable? These religious leaders were not giving up until they got what they demanded.
For the Jewish people, a day begins at sunset. Everyone had eaten the annual Passover meal with their extended family last night. The events in this text took place on the first morning of the week-long observance. The city was packed with pilgrims who had come home to Jerusalem according to the traditions of their faith. This evening there would be more celebration, more sacred time. Now, with sufficient daylight hours, it was time to get on with the crucifixion.
John called it the sixth hour. Translators interpret the time differently. But it is generally agreed that it was noon or earlier. The Gospel writer, Mark, records that Jesus was crucified at the third hour, which we now call 9 A.M. Footnotes say there were differing ways of telling time, hence the confusion.
John 19:15, NIV15 But they shouted, "Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!" "Shall I crucify your king?" Pilate asked. "We have no king but Caesar," the chief priests answered.
March 21, 2012How low can you go? These authorities from the land of Judea sank all the way to the bottom. In order to persuade Pilate to rule in their favor, they graveled in the dirt before him and cried out, "We have no king but Caesar." The Jews at the time hated the Romans who occupied their country. To mouth these words and bow before the Roman Caesar, was as low as any person could go.
They were breaking the standards and overriding spirit of that which set them apart from all other people--the Law and the Prophets. Of course they would rationalize and argue otherwise, but deep inside they knew they had sold their heart and soul in order to get rid of Jesus. Or maybe they couldn't see, because they had conveniently forgotten their great Law. Utterly secularized, they rejected Jesus and embraced Caesar!
After starting down this treacherous road, they found it impossible to retreat. They were like a herd of wild animals racing straight toward an abyss, and nothing was going to stop them.