Lesson 116: Jesus Before Pilate /Jesus before Herod
Matt 27:1-2, Mark 15:1-5, Luke 23:1-12, John 18:28-38
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson #116. Welcome again! Before we get into the reading, I would like to ask you to visualize the situation in Jerusalem. It was approximately daylight on Friday morning. Jesus had been up for approximately 24 hours. He had eaten the passover the night before and had prayed in the garden with great drops of sweat like blood. He had been bound and the mob took him to Annas. The apostles were scattered as sheep when their shepherd was smitten. Peter and John had made their way through the darkness to that part of the temple where the mob had taken Jesus. It seems that the apostle John had some inside track with the high priest. He went right on into the palace where Jesus was. It would appear that when John went to the door keeper, who was a maid, i.e. a woman; and requested that Peter be permitted to enter the palace of the high priest; the door keeper considered John's request as permission to enter. I don't understand that connection; but it would appear that John had some inside track. Peter was scared! But, he loved Jesus enough to follow and to enter in to see what would happen. Matthew said, "Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end." Yet, you might remember, Matthew was an apostle and Matthew didn't tell us where Matthew was. Peter knew that all the servants and helpers of the high priest were looking at him with suspicion. His attempt to harm Malchus with the sword and the rebuke from Jesus to put the sword away was grinding at his conscience. He loved Jesus and yet when the peer pressure became too great he lost his cool and began to curse with an oath and denied Jesus. Then when that rooster crowed and Peter realized what he had done; he wept bitterly. Can you imagine Peter's mental state? He had been up 24 hours too. Peter and John had no doubt worked unusually hard the day before preparing the passover meal. Did you ever skin a sheep and prepare it for a feast? That was probably why Peter was carrying that knife (or sword) around that he used to cut off Malchus1 ear. Where were the other apostles? What were they thinking? Where was Judas? What was Judas thinking? Had he heard Caiaphas and some of the council members grilling Jesus? Had he seen the slapping, the blindfolding, and the maltreatment Jesus had suffered? What kind of an agreement did he make with the high priest and the council, anyway? We don't know. Were the councilmen taking advantage of Judas on the deal he made? Had they told Judas they were going to kill Jesus? As daylight came and as the council hastily sent Jesus to Pilate; the people of the crowded city would soon be stirring. Annas and Caiaphas and many of the council members had been up all night too. What about the disciples of Jesus over at Bethany and those scattered all around the city that had come to Jerusalem for the passover? As daylight came very few had even heard that Jesus had been arrested by that mob. Can you imagine the sadness and the commotion and confusion that took place among the disciples as they got the word that Friday morning? Possibly some of the apostles had been passing the word to other disciples during the night.
Now, if you have your head working, let's read a few more verses. Let's start with John's account again, John 18:28. We'll read down through v.38. The reference is John 18:28. Ready? Let's read. "Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered' him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priest have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was Iborn, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?"
O.K. try to visualize again. It was early, apparently very early in the morning. A delegation of chief priests led by Caiaphas no doubt, went only a short distance, a block or two, to the castle of the Roman governor, Pilate now, they had been up all night trying to concoct a scheme to have Jesus murdered. However, they wouldn't go into the castle themselves. They had been too busy the night before to take the passover feast and they didn't want to defile themselves by walking into that foreign, worldly castle. They could still observe the passover any time on Friday, so they wanted to be clean and sinless and pure and chaste to take the passover feast that day. Have you ever heard of such hypocrisy? Can you even imagine? They inquired at the castle and Pilate, a gentleman Gentile, was trying to play politics and be respectful of their feast days; went out to them. when Pilate found out what they wanted; he asked, "What accusation bring ye against this man?" Their answer revealed to Pilate they didn't have an accusation, they couldn't come up with one. They said: "If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee." That's a little like saying, don't ask so many questions Pilate. You do your job, kill this man! Pilate said in effect, You do it! "Judge him according to your law." (v.31). They said, OH! It's not lawful for us to put any man to death, i.e. we respect the Roman law, you see. It's a pretty sure bet that Pilate had heard of Jesus before. Jesus had been in and around Jerusalem for the last six months. His intelligence sources had surely picked up on Lazarus being raised from the dead and that big triumphal entry into the city the Sunday before. After this little pow-wow with the Jewish leaders, Pilate went in to that big judgment seat and called for the guards to bring Jesus. He asked Jesus (I'm paraphrasing), "Are you a king?" Now, obviously there was nothing about Jesus' dress or his person that would give the appearance of a king. There he stood in front of that big judgment seat in a regular or standard Jewish garb; and most likely his hands were still tied. Jesus asked Pilate where he got that idea about Jesus being a king. Did he just think that up himself; or did he have some help? Of course, the question itself conveyed by Jesus what the Jews had fed Pilate. And Pilate was quick to catch on that it was a false accusation. Because, you see, when Pilate saw it was the Jews accusing Jesus of being a king, i.e. suggesting Jesus was disloyal to the Romans. Pilate was smart enough, and he knew the Jews well enough, to know that if they could have found a leader with any following, capable of conducting a rebellion against the Romans; those Jews would probably be supporting it instead of exposing it to Pilate. So, Pilate said to Jesus in effect, O.K. what have you done? Pilate was saying, just tell me straight out: how have you come to incur such wrath and hatred of the Jewish leaders. Notice then in v.36, that Jesus explained to Pilate that in a sense he was a King. But, not a civil king as the Jews were implying. Jesus told Pilate his kingdom was not of this world, i.e. Jesus' kingdom was a spiritual kingdom. And Jesus pointed out that his kingdom was not a physical power with defensive forces that would give the Romans trouble. However, for our benefit, Jesus was saying that the church or kingdom as he and John the Baptist had referred to it over and over in the last three years; the church IS a kingdom in a sense. He is the king, King Jesus. That kingdom called the church, has subjects or citizens known as disciples or Christians. That kingdom has a constitution or bylaws known as the New Testament. We'll learn more about the territory later. Pilate got the message; so, Pilate rephrased the question, "Art thou a king then?" (v.37). Jesus answered by directing attention to the spiritual aspect again, he said he was born for -that purpose. Then Jesus added that "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice?" You see, that even included Pilate. Then look at Pilate's question in the first part of v.38, "What is truth?" Have you heard that question today? Did you ever notice how scheming and conspiring people have trouble understanding simple things? You can say to a five year old child, tell me the truth! and he knows what exactly you mean. But, take the question to a doctor of theology and they're not sure what truth is. Did you ever observe that? Some people in our day claim to be educated wizards and they go around openly claiming they are trying to find out who they are. It beats me! But, even Pilate who didn't know what truth is could see far enough to know that the Jews didn't have a case. So, he went out and told them so.
O.K. we're going to read some more. We'll take them in order, Matthew, Mark and then Luke. So, turn to Matt. ch. 27. Now, this might help you as a little memory device. We have exactly two chapters left in Matthew, two chapters in Mark and two chapters in Luke. All three books start off at that point with Jesus before Pilate. It doesn't work with the book of John. Now, Matthew weaves in some very interesting information about Judas; but, we're going to skip that for the moment. Are you ready? Beginning in Matt. 27:1, but we're going to skip v.3-10 and read v.11-14. Let's read it! "when the morning was come, all the chief priest and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: and when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor." Alright, skip down to v. 10. Let's read some more. "And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou a King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, thou sayest. And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to not a word; insomuch that the governor marveled greatly." Alright, Matthew's account was very much like John. So, let's go to Mark. As I said, in talking about the memory device, Mark tells us about Jesus before Pilate just two chapters from the end of the book. That's the beginning of Mark ch. 15. If you'll turn there, we'll read the first five verses. Beginning in Mark 15:1, are you ready to read? "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. And Pilate asked him, Art thou a 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 marveled." You can see that all these accounts are abbreviated somewhat; but, Mark agrees with Matthew and John.
Let's go to Luke. If you caught on to the little memory device you can figure it out. Where do we read? We start at the beginning of Luke ch. 23. Right? We'll read five verses. Luke 23:1-5. Have you got your eyes on it? Let's read! "And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ the king. And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place." Do you remember the question, "Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar?" All three writers told us about that incident. It happened on Tuesday morning, when the different religious groups were challenging Jesus in the temple. Luke's account is back in ch. 20:22. Do you remember, Jesus first ask them to see a coin. What did Jesus say? "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's and unto God the things which be God's." You see, this tells you, they were trying to gather derogatory information against Jesus even then. When Pilate heard them mention Galilee, he wanted to know if Jesus was from Galilee. That brings us to v.6, let's read Luke 23:6-12. Have you still got your N.T. open there? Beginning with Luke 23:6. "When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto herod's jurisdiction, he. sent him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time. And when herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad: for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him. Then he questioned with him in many words; but he answered him nothing. And the chief priest and scribes stood and vehemently accused him. And Herod with his men of war set him at naught, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate. And the same day Pilate and Herod were made friends together; for before they were at enmity between themselves."
I trust you recognize Antipater Herod the foxy governor of Galilee. This is the Herod that got a little too much to drink and during his birthday party had John the Baptist beheaded in prison. He thought Jesus was John the Baptist come back to life (Matt. 14:2). In Luke 13:32 some came to Jesus advising him to get out for Herod may cut off his head like he did John the Baptist. Jesus told them what to go tell the "fox", i.e. Jesus called Herod a fox. Here in Luke 23:8 it says Herod was desirous to see some miracle done by Jesus. So, Antipater Herod knew who Jesus was. And, Herod finally got a chance to speak to Jesus face to face. But, Jesus wouldn't answer his questions. Did you notice in v.10 that some of the chief priests and scribes were there to accuse Jesus. Herod could see that Pilate had got hold of a hot potato and Pilate was trying to toss it over to Herod; so, Antipater tossed that hot potato right back to Pilate. Herod saw that if he turned Jesus loose he would displease the Jews; so Herod played his politics to please the Jews. Justice was secondary. Thus, Herod didn't give much help to his constituents, did he?
We're going to call this lesson to an end and in our next lesson we'll get back to Jesus as he was returned to Pilate for the second time. So, until our next lesson, this is saying: Have a good day!