"In our reading today in John Chapter 18 verses 1 to 40 we read of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas and the subsequent trials before Annas, Caiaphas and Pilate. In the garden, Jesus did not seek to hide his true identity but openly confessed that he was the one that they sought. Before Annas and Pilate Jesus affirmed that he spoke and bore witness to the truth. When Pilate was unable to find anything that Jesus could be held for, he appealed to the gathered crowd. In phrasing his appeal, Pilate referred to Jesus as the King of the Jews. But the crowd refused to release Jesus hence rejecting him as their king." (New Zealand's Rhema Radio)
"What is truth?" retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release 'the king of the Jews'?"I am always 'caught' at this face to face encounter between Jesus and Pilate. There is something about Pilate's questions. In particular "What is Truth?"
They shouted back, "No, not him! Give us Barabbas!"
In Matthew's account Pilate offers this question to the Jews.
What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?" Pilate asked (Matthew 27:22a)I would argue that Pilate was faced with the biggest decision in history. What is he going to do with Jesus?
Who is this Pontius Pilate anyway? He was the Roman governor of Judea. His primary role was military, but he also was in charge of imperial tax collection and had some judicial functions. Civil administration was handled by local governments and in the Hebrew providence that was the Sanhedrin. The High Priest was the president of the Sanhedrin. Pilate had the authority to execute criminals but the High Priest did not. It is interesting to note that until 1961 there was no strong evidence Pilate existed outside of the account in the Gospels of the New Testament. In 1961 a stone block was discovered among ruins in Caesarea with his name and Roman title carved in the stone.
Watching this interaction between Pilate and Jesus, and Pilate and the High Priest is just fascinating. So much is going on. Pilate just doesn't want to be dealing with this situation and yet he is forced to by the High Priest and the crowd. He clearly acknowledges that Jesus is completely innocent. He appears to have given up on truth already and ultimately just decides to avoid the hassle altogether and give the people what they want.
We are all just like Pilate. We all have to decide about Jesus. It is life's primary decision. I like the way Whitney T. Kuniholm puts it in his book The Essential Bible Guide.
Sooner or later, everyone must make that decision. Is Jesus a source of anger and frustration; a hassle to be avoided; or is he “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6)? It’s important to carefully think it over; it’s the biggest decision you’ll ever make.What am I going to do with Jesus?
Avoid the hassle?
Search for the truth about him?
Accept him as the source of all truth and listen to him, follow him?
I am working through the E100 Bible Reading Challenge again. You can learn more about my journey and read the other posts completed so far at this link. I encourage you to stop back soon to read another passage.
Please share your own thoughts on this passage in the comment section below or on the Facebook page.
The image in this post is a cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's depiction of Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!). Check out the full version of the painting.