7738 - Before Pilate
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In our study through the book of Luke, today we look at the trial of Jesus before Pilate the Roman governor of Judea.
I will read Luke 23:1-7, then we can have more discussion.
Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, "We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king."
So Pilate asked Jesus, "Are you the king of the Jews?" "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no basis for a charge against this man."
But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."
On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. When he learned that Jesus was under Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
Leading up to this passage was the examination of Jesus before the Sanhedrin at daybreak on the day of the cross. In this examination they affirmed that Jesus deserved to die because of blasphemy.
In their desire to quickly move this act forward, the entire Sanhedrin immediately left their council chamber and led Jesus to face Pilate.
These Jewish leaders would not enter Pilate’s palace because that would make them unclean, then they could not eat the Passover. So Pilate went out to them and asked what accusations they were bringing against Jesus.
They were defiant and said that if this man were not a criminal then we would not have brought him to you.
Pilate replied: then you should deal with him according to Jewish law.
The Jews replied that they did not have the authority to execute anyone. This was the only reason they had come to Pilate.
Then they placed three claims against Jesus. (1) they said this man has been subverting our nation. (2) He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar, and (3) he claims to be Christ, a king.
The Bible record gives no indication that any of these charges had ever been discussed before the Sanhedrin. These were lies fabricated in the minds of these spokesmen leaders in an effort to condemn Jesus.
Their claim that they had found this man subverting our nation is never mentioned in the gospels. By this they were claiming that Jesus was undermining the character and morals of the Jewish people, that he was a bad influence. Jesus was actually introducing a new life of truth and righteousness to the people.
They also claimed that Jesus opposed payment of taxes to Caesar. It was the chief priests and scribes who asked Jesus in prior days, when they were trying to trap him (Lk. 20:19-25): “Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
Jesus saw through their deception at that time and showed them a denarius coin and asked whose image was on the coin? They replied, “Caesar’s.” Then Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Jesus in no way opposed paying taxes to Caesar. This claim was likewise a lie by those religious leaders.
A third charge they laid before Pilate regarding Jesus was that he claims to be Christ, a king.
This charge related to the council’s own feelings that Jesus was a threat to their religious authority. The presence of Jesus was a danger to their position under the Romans, and they felt that his popularity with the people was a threat to the very existence of the Jewish nation. He had to be eliminated.
Then Pilate entered the palace to talk to Jesus. Pilate went straight to their final charge and asked Jesus if he was indeed the King of the Jews? Jesus replied: “Yes, it is as you say.” Then Jesus added that his kingdom was not of this world. If it were, then my servants would fight for me.
Then Pilate returned to the Jews and told them he found no fault in this man.
The leaders agitated the people and said Jesus was stirring up riots everywhere from Galilee to Judea.
On hearing that Jesus was from Galilee Pilate sent Jesus to Herod the Roman authority over Galilee, who was in Jerusalem at that time.
We’ll look at Herod’s examination in our next study.