Friday, March 17, 2017

Jesus’ Trial

Mark 15:1-15

“And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.” (Mark 15:1)

In the Roman Empire, Roman Law took precedent over local laws, just as Federal law takes precedent over those of local cities or states.  Because the Jewish leaders had fallen into a habit of trying to use Jewish law to stop their opposition, much like Lois Lerner withholding tax exempt status from conservative groups, the Roman government had limited their authority to enforce their laws.  Before sentence could be carried out, it had to be approved by the Roman courts.  Though the Jewish rulers had decided Christ’s sentence they had to have a hearing before Pilate.  

“And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews?

And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.

And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.

And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee.  But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.” (Mark 15:2-5)

Jesus had repeatedly shut down and destroyed his opponent’s arguments in the past, and could easily have done the same thing before Pilate because even their witnesses couldn’t agree.   He had come to earth for the purpose of dying for man’s sin, and any effort he might make to defend himself would destroy their case potentially preventing them from executing him.    He simply refused to defend himself, and Pilate was amazed, realizing that their entire case was based on envy, and not a legitimate crime as we will see in Mark 15:10.  The other Gospels give additional details of the hearings, with both Pilate and Herod concluding the charges were without merit, but fearing the Jewish reaction, were afraid to set him free.   

“Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.  And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.  And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.

But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:6-10)

Each year at Passover, Pilate had made a habit of releasing one political prisoner.  In a last ditch effort to release Jesus without upsetting the Jewish leaders, Pilate gave them a choice of which prisoner he would release.  He knew that everyone hated Barabbas, a well-known murder and trouble maker they were glad to have off the streets.   He was sure they would choose Jesus over Barabbas. 

“But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

And they cried out again, Crucify him.

Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.” (Mark 15:11-14)

Like the Democratic Party leaders and News media stirring up hatred toward Donald Trump, calling for his impeachment even before he took office, the Jewish leaders stirred up hatred toward Jesus, calling for his crucifixion.  Pilate was shocked at the level of hatred and asked what the grounds for execution for execution could be since he had not been shown to commit any crimes. 

“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” (Mark 15:15)

In an effort to appease the people, Pilate authorize Jesus’ crucifixion, even though he knew it was wrong.  He refused to accept responsibility for what was happening.  

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