The next part of the short series of meditations leading up to Easter.
These verses give an account of the trial of Jesus.
Firstly, he was taken to the High Priest together with other priests, elders and teachers of the law. They were already prejudiced against Jesus. They had heard his teaching and did not like the way that it challenged them. They were looking for any excuse to put him to death. But, they could not find anything. So they resorted to misquoting him and making up things. Except that they could not even agree amongst themselves!
Jesus remained silent throughout all of this. Until, that is the High Priest asked him if he was the Christ. He confirmed that indeed he was – in fact he went on to remind them that one day he would return to earth from heaven as King. This was all they needed. They clearly did not believe that he was telling them the truth, and they knew that the penalty for falsely claiming to be God was death.
So early the following morning they handed him over to Pilate who was the Governor. He asked the same question, and Jesus gave the same answer. The chief priests wanted to continue to press further charges against Jesus, but he didn’t answer them – which amazed Pilate. He obviously felt that Jesus was innocent, as far as he was concerned it was a matter for all these religious people to sort out.
Pilate offered to release Jesus. At this time each year, one prisoner would be released. Pilate suggested that it be Jesus. The chief priests disagreed – and stirred up the crowd to disagree too! Instead they wanted to release a murderer called Barabbas. So Pilate gave into the pressure from the crowd, and released this other man. We don’t know what happened to him after this – but if he realised the enormity of what it meant that Jesus should be put to death instead of him, he may well have become a follower.
Pilate was obviously still not happy, as he could not find a reason to put Jesus to death, he saw him as being innocent. However, the crowd became louder, crying “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate gave in, released Barabbas and handed Jesus over to be crucified.
So what is our response to all of this? We see the attitude of the religious leaders who did not like Jesus challenging them. It can be the same for us today, perhaps we don’t like some of the things that Jesus said, or what he wants us to do, so we would rather he was out of the way.
We could also be like Pilate, and see Jesus as being a good man – perfect – the Son of God even. But we could see it as being easier to follow the crowd and disregard him.
Anyway, these events paved the way for Jesus to go to the Cross to take the punishment for our sins. That is what we will focus on tomorrow.
He stood before the court
on trial instead of us;
he met its power to hurt,
condemned to face the cross:
our king, accused
our God, abused