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The Persecution And Trial Of Christ

First Day of Unleavened Bread

(Mat 5:11–12 NKJV) "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. {12} "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

We are frequently reminded that those who live on into the tribulation will be persecuted.

(John 15:20 NKJV) "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
(Rev 6:11 NKJV) Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Have you ever wondered how you would react during persecution? Well, we have an example which we can and should be willing to follow.

(1 Pet 2:21 NKJV) For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:

As we near the 1982nd anniversary day of the trial and crucifixion of our Messiah, Jesus Christ – Yeshua ha Mashiach for those who prefer His Hebrew name and title, I thought I would walk you through the attitudes and responses of our Messiah through His trial, and provide comments about them. This may present somewhat different views than that given in the very pro–Catholic movie "The Passion of the Christ."

I want to begin this study about persecution with a comment about Judas. He appeared to be a friend of Jesus but it was he who double–crossed Jesus by selling him to the High Priest. Yes, under the right conditions, even close acquaintances can betray us by revealing who we are and what we believe.

Mat 10:21–22 makes that quite clear.

(Mat 10:21–22 NASB) "And brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents, and cause them to be put to death. {22} "And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.

Notice who will be saved and when he will be saved. It's not on the sawdust trail.

Jesus was then brought before Annas, the former High Priest.

(John 18:13–24 NKJV) And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the father–in–law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year.

Annas had great authority and influence in the Jewish nation. He had been a long time high priest; he had had five sons who had successively enjoyed the office of high priest, and that office was now filled by his son–in–law, Caiaphas. It was of importance, therefore, to obtain his sanction and counsel in their work of evil.

{14} Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people. {15} And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Now that disciple was known to the high priest, and went with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest. {16} But Peter stood at the door outside. Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to her who kept the door, and brought Peter in. {17} Then the servant girl who kept the door said to Peter, "You are not also one of this Man's disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." {18} Now the servants and officers who had made a fire of coals stood there, for it was cold, and they warmed themselves. And Peter stood with them and warmed himself.

So here we have Jesus' very close friend and disciple Peter who, when he feared that what was happening to Jesus could happen to him, turned his back on Jesus and denied knowing and following him. Could any of us find ourselves in Peter's situation and deny our Savior or each other to save our own skin?

{19} The high priest then asked Jesus about His disciples and His doctrine.

To ascertain their number and power, the high priest then asked Jesus about his disciples. The charge on which they wished to arraign him was that of sedition, or of rebellion against Caesar, for that carried the death penalty. To make that plausible, it was necessary to show that he had made so many disciples as to form a strong and dangerous faction; but, as they had no direct proof of that, the high priest insidiously and improperly attempted to draw the Savior into a confession.

He asked him about His doctrine or teaching; the sentiments that he inculcated (tought). The object was doubtless to convict him of teaching sentiments that tended to subvert the Mosaic institutions, or that were treasonable against the Roman government. Either would have answered the design of the High Priest, and they doubtless expected that he—an unarmed and despised Galilean, now completely in their power—would easily be drawn into confessions which their cleverness and malice could use to condemn him.

{20} Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.

He spoke openly to the world. If his doctrine had tended to excite sedition and rioting, if he had aimed to overthrow the government, he would have trained his friends in secret; he would have retired from public view, and would have laid his plans in private. This is the case with all who attempt to subvert existing establishments. Instead of that, he had proclaimed his views to all. He had done it publically in the synagogue and in the temple. He speaks as one conscious of his innocence and determined to insist on his rights.

He spoke where the Jews always meet and assemble. They were required to assemble there at least three times in a year, and great multitudes were there constantly.

{21} "Why do you ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they know what I said."

Jesus insisted on his rights, and reproves the high priest for his unjust and illegal manner of extorting a confession from him. If he had done wrong, or taught erroneous and seditious doctrines, it was easy to prove it, and the course which he had a right to demand was that they should establish the charge by fair and incontrovertible evidence.

We should learn four things from this:

1. That, though Jesus was willing to be reviled and persecuted, he insisted that he should be treated with justice.

2. That He was conscious of his innocence. He had been so open in his conduct that he could appeal to the multitudes which had heard him as witnesses in his favor.

3. As we are to follow his example, so it is proper for us, when persecuted and reviled, humbly but firmly to insist on our rights, and to demand that justice shall be done us. Laws are made to protect the innocent as well as to condemn the guilty.

4. Christians, like their Savior, should so live that they may confidently appeal to all who have known them as witnesses of the sincerity, purity, and correctness of their lives.

{22} And when He had said these things, one of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?"

One of the officers, or those who attended on the court struck Jesus with the palm of his hand. This can mean: "He gave him a blow either with the open hand or with a rod." The Greek does not determine which. Whatever way it was done, it was a violation of all law and justice. Jesus had showed no disrespect for the office of the high priest, and if he had, this was not the proper way to punish it.

{23} Jesus answered him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why do you strike Me?" But if I have answered respectfully, why do you strike me? While an accused person is on trial he is under the protection of the court, and has a right to demand that all legal measures shall be taken to secure his rights. On this right Jesus insisted, and showed that, though he had no intention of taking revenge, yet he claimed that, when arraigned, strict justice should be done.
{24} Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
(Mat 26:59–68 NKJV) Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,. . .

They looked for witnesses who would accuse him of the crime of violating the laws of the land or of God. We shouldn't suppose that "they wished" them to be "false" witnesses. They were indifferent, probably, whether they were true or false, if they could succeed in condemning him. Matthew calls it false testimony. Luke informs us in Luke 22:66 that the council came together as soon as it was day; probably near the morning, or not far from the break of day–after Peter had denied him and gone out.

Continuing the sentence in verse 60 . . .but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none.

They found no one on whose testimony they could with any shred of reason convict him. The reason was, as Mark says in Mark 14:56, that "their witnesses didn't agree with each other." They differed about facts, times, and circumstances, as all false witnesses do. Two witnesses were required by their law, and they did not "dare" to condemn him without conforming, in appearance at least, to the requirements of the law.

Continuing. . ..But at last two false witnesses came forward {61} who said, "This fellow said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'"

Mark has recorded this testimony differently. According to him, they said, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands." Possibly both forms of giving testimony were used in the trial, and Matthew has recorded it as it was given at one time and Mark at another, so that there is likely no contradiction. Mark adds, "But neither did their witnesses agree together." That which they "attempted" to accuse him of is what he had said respecting his body and their destroying it, John 2:19: "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This he spoke of his body. They perverted it or misunderstood it, trying to show that he meant the temple at Jerusalem.

{62} And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" {63} But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!"

But Jesus held his peace. He was silent. He knew that the evidence did not even appear to amount to anything worth a reply. He knew that they were aware of that, and realizing that, the high priest attempted to draw something from him on which they could condemn him.

"I put You under oath by the living God. I put You upon Your oath before God." This was the usual form of making an oath among the Jews. It implies calling God to witness the truth of what was said. The law respecting witnesses also made it a violation of an oath to conceal any part of the truth; and though our Savior might have felt that such a question, put in such a manner, was very improper or was unlawful, yet he also knew that to be silent would be construed into a denial of his being the Messiah. They had utterly failed in their proof. They had no way left to accomplish their purpose of condemning him but to draw it from his own lips. This cunning question was therefore proposed. The difficulty of the question consisted in this: If he confessed that he was the Son of God, they stood ready to condemn him for "blasphemy;" if he denied it, they were prepared to condemn him for being an impostor, and for deluding the people under the pretense of being the Messiah.

The Jews uniformly expected that the Messiah would be the Son of God and Jesus had admitted to being that. Let's turn for a moment to John 10:31–36. Hold your place in Matt 26.

(John 10:31–36 NKJV) Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. {32} Jesus answered them, "Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?" {33} The Jews answered Him, saying, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God." {34} Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your law, 'I said, "You are gods"'? {35} "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), {36} "do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?

What law was he referring to which said 'You are gods?' Hold your place in Mat 26 and turn to Psa 82.

(Psa 82:1, 6 NKJV) God stands in the congregation of the mighty; He judges among the gods. . . . . .{6} I said, "You are gods, And all of you are children of the Most High. [Who is He talking to?]

Back to Mat 26:63. But in their prejudiced view, to claim the title of Son of God was blasphemy. They had determined beforehand in their own minds that he was not the Messiah, and they were ready at once to accuse him of blasphemy.

{64} Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
We won't turn to it but Luke 22:67–68 states, "If I tell you ye will not believe me, and if I ask you" [that is, propose the proofs of my mission, and require you to give your opinion of them], "ye will not answer me, nor let me go."
Mat 26:64 says, "It is as you said." Or more concisely, "The words are your own." This is a form of assenting or affirming. You have said the truth; or, as Luke 22:70 has it, "You say that I am."

Sitting on the right hand of the Power refers to God the Father. This is also described in Psalms 110. Let's turn to that scripture for a moment. Hold your place in Mat. 26.

(Psa 110:1 NKJV) The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."
Mat 26:65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy!

The Jews were accustomed to tear their clothes as a token of grief. This was done often as a matter of form, and consisted in tearing a particular part of the garment reserved for this purpose. Lev 10:6 and 21:10 show it was not lawful for the high priest to rip his clothes. These verses probably referred to the robes of his priestly office. The garment which he now tore was probably his ordinary garment, or the garments which he wore as president of the Sanhedrin—not those in which he officiated as high priest. This was done on this occasion to denote the great grief of the high priest that so great a sin as blasphemy had been committed in his presence. It appears that it could even be an overt act of self–righteousness.

He hath spoken blasphemy. That is, he has, under oath, arrogated to himself what belongs to God. In asserting that he is the Son of God, and therefore equal in dignity with the Father, and that he would yet sit at His right hand, he has claimed what belongs to no man. If he had not been the Messiah, the charge would have been true; but the question was whether he had not given evidence that he was the Messiah, and that therefore his claims were just. This point—the only proper point of inquiry—they never examined. They assumed that he was an impostor, and with that point being assumed, it was proof that he deserved to die.

{66} "What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death."

What is your verdict? What sentence do you pronounce? As President of the Sanhedrin, he demanded their judgment.

He is guilty. He deserves death. The meaning is, he is guilty of a crime to which the law annexes death. This sentence was used before the Jews became subject to the Romans, when they had the power of inflicting death. After they were subject to the Romans, though the power of inflicting capital punishment was taken away, yet they retained the Biblical form when they expressed their opinion of the guilt of an offender. The law under which they condemned him was that recorded in Lev 24:10–16, which sentenced him that was guilty of blasphemy to death by stoning. The chief priests, however, were unwilling to excite a popular insurrection by stoning him, and they therefore consulted to deliver him to the Romans to be crucified, "under the authority of the Roman name," and thus to prevent any rioting by the people.

{67} CJB Then they spit in His face and pounded him with their fists,

Then they spit in his face. This, among the Jews, as among us, was significant of the highest contempt and insult.

The word used in the original Greek, rhapizo, [rha–pid'zo], G4474, literally means to strike with rods or canes. It also means to box the ears or strike the mouth with the open hand, as if to prevent a person's speaking, or to evince abhorrence of what he had spoken.

{68} saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"
(Luke 22:64 NKJV) And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?"

Having prevented him from seeing, they ridiculed his pretensions of being the Messiah. If he was the Christ, they supposed he could tell who struck him As he bore it patiently and did not answer, they doubtless supposed that they had discovered another reason to think he was an impostor. The word "prophesy" does not mean only to foretell future events, although that is the proper meaning of the word, but also to declare anything that is unknown, or anything which cannot be known by natural knowledge or without revelation. Luke adds in verse 65, "And many other things they blasphemously spoke against him." There is something very remarkable in this expression. They had charged Him with "blasphemy" in claiming to be the Son of God. This charge they were not able to prove; but Luke fixes the charge of "blasphemy" on them, because he really was the Son of God, and they denied it.

(Mat 27:1–2 NKJV) When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death.{2} And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

Verse 1. When morning came. . This was not long after Jesus had been condemned by the Sanhedrin. Peter's last denial was probably just before the break of day. As soon as it was light, the Jews consulted together for the purpose of taking his life. The sun rose at that season of the year in Judea about 5:20 a.m., and the time when they assembled, therefore, was not long after Peter's denial.

The chief priests and elders of the people plotted against him how they could cause His death. They corrupted his trial by assuming he played God and so agreed that he deserved to die, "on a charge of blasphemy;" yet they did not dare to put him to death by stoning, as they later did to Stephen (see Acts 7), and as the law commanded in case of blasphemy, for they feared the people. They therefore "consulted," or took counsel together, to determine on what pretense they could deliver him to the Roman emperor, or to fix some charge of a civil nature by which Pilate might be induced to condemn him. The charge which they used was not that on which they had tried him, and on which they had determined he ought to die, but that of perverting the nation, and of forbidding to give tribute to Caesar. On this accusation, they supposed Pilate could be induced to condemn Jesus. On a charge of "blasphemy" they knew he could not, because that was not an offence against the Roman laws, and over which, therefore, Pilate claimed no jurisdiction.

(John 18:28 NKJV) Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium [Pilate's judgment hall], and it was early morning. But they themselves did not go into the Praetorium, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover. [Notice it was one day later than Passover – on Abib 15.]
(Luke 23:1–12 NKJV) Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. {2} And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is the Messiah, a King." [Messiah means king.]

The word "fellow" is not in the original. It conveys a notion of "contempt," which they no doubt felt, but which is not expressed in the Greek, and so it is not proper to express it in the translation. It should be translated, "We found this man."

Perverting or subverting the nation implies he excited them to sedition and commotion. This was a mere wanton accusation, but it was plausible before a Roman magistrate; because,

1. The Galileans, as Josephus testifies, were prone to sedition and riots, and,

2. Jesus drew multitudes after him, and they thought it was easy to show that this was itself promoting commotions and sedition.

Forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar was another distortion. Mat 23:2 proves that they were very cautious and cunning about their charges. They did not say that he taught that people should not give tribute—that would have been too gross a charge, and would have been easily refuted; but it was an inference which they drew. They implied it followed from his doctrine. He professed to be a king. They inferred, therefore, if he was a king, that he must hold that it was not right to acknowledge allegiance to any foreign prince; and if they could make this stick, they supposed that Pilate must condemn him.

(Verse:3) Then Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" He answered him and said, "It is as you say." {4} So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no fault in this Man."

I see no evidence that he is guilty of what you charge him with. This was after Pilate had taken Jesus into the judgment–hall by himself and examined him privately, and had been satisfied in regard to the nature of his kingdom. He was then satisfied that though he claimed to be a king, yet his kingdom was not of this world, and that his claims did not interfere with those of Caesar.

(Verse: 5) But they were the more fierce, saying, "He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place."

They were more urgent and pressing; more persistent. They saw that there was a prospect of losing their cause, and they attempted to press on Pilate the point that would be most likely now to affect him. Pilate had, in fact, acquitted him of the charge of being an enemy to Caesar, and they, therefore, more vehemently urged the other point of stirring up commotion.

From Galilee to Jerusalem, throughout the whole country. It is not merely in one place, but from one end of the land to the other.

(Verse 6) When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean.

He asked this because, if he was, he properly belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, who reigned over Galilee.

(Verse 7) And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

Herod Antipas, was a son of Herod the Great, who I call Herod the Horrible. Herod Antipas was the same Herod that put John the Baptist to death. Jesus had passed most of his life in the part of the country where he ruled, and it was, therefore, considered that he belonged to his jurisdiction – that is, that it belonged to Herod, not to Pilate, to try him.

(Verse 8) Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him. {9} Then he questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing. {10} And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused Him.

They violently or unjustly accused him, endeavoring to make it appear that he had been guilty of sedition by inciting people to riot, in Herod's province.

(Verse11) Then Herod, with his men of war, treated Him with contempt and mocked Him, arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe, and sent Him back to Pilate.

Herod was with his men of war or soldiers, his body–guards. Because of the hatred of him by the Jews, it is probable that when traveling he had guards to attend him constantly.

The gorgeous robe was undoubtedly a white or shining robe, for this is the meaning of the original. The Roman princes wore purple robes, and Pilate, therefore, would have put such a robe on Jesus. The Jewish kings wore a white robe, which was often rendered very shiny or gorgeous by much interwoven tinsel or silver. Josephus says that the robe which Agrippa wore was so bright with silver that when the sun shone on it, it so dazzled the eyes that it was difficult to look on it. The Jews and Romans, therefore, decked him in the manner appropriate to their own country, for purposes of mockery. All this was unlawful and malicious, because there was not the least evidence of his guilt.

(Verse 12) That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

It is commonly supposed that the cause of their quarrel was Pilate's slaying the Galileans in Jerusalem, as related in Luke 13:1–2. The occasion of their reconciliation seems to have been the civility and respect which Pilate showed to Herod in this case. It was not because they were united in hating Jesus, as is often the case with wicked people, for Pilate was certainly desirous of releasing him, and both considered him merely as an object of ridicule and sport. But Herod was also sensitive to any accusation of sedition, for that would lessen him in the eyes of Pilate, from whom he needed support.

Continuing on in verse 13, Then Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests, the rulers, and the people, {14} said to them, "You have brought this Man to me, as one who misleads the people. And indeed, having examined Him in your presence, I have found no fault in this Man concerning those things of which you accuse Him; {15} "no, neither did Herod, for I sent you back to him; and indeed nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.

Nothing deserving of death has been done by him. The charges are not proved against him. They had had every opportunity of proving them, first before Pilate and then before Herod, unjustly subjecting him to trial before two men in succession, and thus giving them a double opportunity of condemning him, and yet, he was declared by both to be innocent. There could be no better evidence that he was innocent.

(John 18:31–38 NKJV) Then Pilate said to them, "You take Him and judge Him according to your law." Therefore the Jews said to him, "It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,"

The Jews had not directly informed him that they had judged him and pronounced him worthy of death. Pilate therefore tells them to look into the case; to ascertain the proof of his guilt, and to decide on what the law of Moses pronounced. It has been doubted whether this gave them the power of putting him to death, or whether it was not rather a direction to them to look into the case, and inflict on him, if they judged him guilty, the mild punishment which they were yet at liberty to inflict on criminals. Probably the former is intended. As their lies already determined, in their view this case demanded the punishment of death, so in their answer to Pilate they implied that they had pronounced on it, and that he ought to die. They still, therefore, pressed it on his attention, and refused to obey his injunction to judge him.

It was not lawful for the Jews to put him to death. The Jews were accustomed to put persons to death who were involved in a public commotion (Acts 7:59–60), but they didn't have the power to do it in any case as a regular way of justice. When they first laid the plan of arresting the Savior, they did it to kill him (Matt 26:4); but they intended to do this by the concurrence of the Roman governor.

But it is admitted that they had not this power in the case of sedition, public commotions, or treason against the Roman government. If they had this power in the case of blasphemy and secularism, they did not dare to exert it here, because they were afraid of an uprising by the people (Matt 26:5); hence, they sought to bring in the authority of Pilate. To do this, they endeavored to make it appear that it was a case of sedition and treason, and one which therefore demanded the interference of the Roman governor. Consequently, it was on this charge that they arraigned him, as we read in Luke 23:2. Thus, a public commotion might be avoided, and the discredit of putting him to death which they expected would fall, not on themselves, but upon Pilate!

(John 18:32) that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.

That is to say, that he would be delivered into the hands of the Gentiles and be crucified. Let's turn for a moment to Matt 20:17–19. Hold your place in John 18.

(Mat 20:17–19 NKJV) Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, {18} "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, {19} "and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again."

Neither of these things would have happened if he had been put to death in the way that the Jews first contemplated, Matt 26:4. Though it should be admitted that they had the power, in religious cases, to do this, yet in such a case it would not have been done, as Jesus predicted, it was to be done by the Gentiles; and even if it should be admitted that they had the right to take life, yet they had not the right to do it by crucifixion. This was a Roman punishment. And thus it was ordered, by the will of God, that the prediction of Jesus in both these respects was fulfilled.

Back to John 18:33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium (the judgment hall) again, called Jesus, and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
(Verse 34) Jesus answered him, "Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?"

Are you speaking for yourself, from any conviction of your own mind, or from some apprehension of danger from others? During all the time in which you have been magistrate, have you seen anything in me that has led you to expect sedition or danger to the Roman power? This evidently was intended to remind Pilate that nothing was proved against him, and to caution him against being influenced by the malicious accusations of the Jews. Jesus demanded a just trial, and claimed that Pilate should not be influenced by any reports that he might have heard of him.

(Verse 35) Pilate answered, "Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?"

Pilate's question implied, "Am I likely to be influenced by Jewish prejudices and partialities? Am not I, being a Roman, likely to judge impartially, and to decide on the accusations without being influenced by the malicious and corrupt charges of the accusers? Your own nation delivered you to me, not mine." In this Pilate denies that it was from anything that he had observed that Jesus was arraigned. He admits that it was from the accusation of others; but then he tells the Savior that the charge was so adamant that it was worthy of his deepest attention. It had come from the very nation of Jesus, from his own countrymen, and from the highest authority among the people. As such it demanded consideration, and Pilate urged him to tell him what he had done, what there had been in his conduct that had given them a reason for this charge.

(Verse 36) Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here."

The charge on which Jesus was arraigned was that of laying claim to the office of a king. He here admits that he did claim to be a king, but not in the sense in which the Jews understood it. They charged him with attempting to set up an earthly kingdom, and of exciting sedition against Caesar. In reply to this, Jesus says that his kingdom is not of this world – that is, it is not of the same nature as earthly kingdoms. It was not originated for the same purpose, or conducted on the same plan. He immediately adds a circumstance in which they differ. It was not to protect him from the Jews. He said in essence, "My kingship does not derive its authority from this world's order of things. If it did, my men would have fought to keep me from being arrested by the Jews. But my kingdom does not come from here. That is, it does not come from this world.

(Verse 37) Pilate therefore said to Him, "Are You a king then?" Jesus answered, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." Are you a king then, after all? You say rightly that I am a king. This does not mean that Pilate affirmed that he was a king; it does not appear that he had done this; but it means, "You say rightly that I am a king, for I am a king. I am a king and do not deny it. For this cause I came into the world."

Jesus does not here affirm that he was born to reign at this time, or that this was the design of his coming; but it was to bear witness to and to exhibit the truth. By this he showed what was the purpose of him being here at that time. It was not to assert power; not to collect armies; not to subdue nations in battle.

(Verse 38) Pilate said to Him, "What is truth?" And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, "I find no fault in Him at all.

This question of "What is truth?" was probably asked in contempt, and hence Jesus did not answer it. Had the question been sincere, and had Pilate really sought it as Nicodemus had done (John 3), Jesus would not have hesitated to explain to him the nature of his message and kingdom. They were now alone in the judgment–hall (John 18:33), and as soon as Pilate had asked the question, without waiting for an answer, he went out. It is evident that he was satisfied, from the answer of Jesus, which we just read in verse 36, that he was not a king in the sense in which the Jews accused him; that he would not endanger the Roman government, and consequently that he was innocent of the charge alleged against him. He regarded him, clearly, as an ignorant, and deluded man, but innocent and not dangerous. Hence, he sought to release him; and, hence, contemptuously knowing that no one could know truth, he asked him this question, and immediately went out, not expecting an answer.

This question of the nature of truth had long agitated the world. It was the great subject of inquiry in all the schools of the Greeks. Different sects of philosophers had held different opinions, and Pilate now, in derision, asked him, whom he esteemed an ignorant fanatic, whether he could solve this long–agitated question. He might have had an answer. If he had patiently waited in sincerity, Jesus would have told him what it was. Thousands ask the question in the same way. They have a fixed contempt for the Bible; they deride the instructions of religion; they are unwilling to investigate and to wait at the gates of wisdom; and hence, like Pilate, they remain ignorant of the great Source of truth, and die in darkness and in error.

1 Peter 2:21: "Christ–suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps;"

The legal trial of Christ is over. In order to satisfy the mob, Pilate gave in to them. He turned Him over to the mob. It is to his trial that I have addressed this sermon. From here on we will read of Christ's last hours. So, from here on, I will just read the applicable scriptures with little or no commentary. As I read on, near the anniversary of His death, imagine yourself in Christ's place in order to realize His mental and physical agony and His commitment to the course He knew He had to take.

(Mat 27:15–25 NKJV) Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. {16} And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. {17} Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" [Yeshua who is called ha Mashiach (the king).]{18} For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy. {19} While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him." {20} But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. {21} The governor answered and said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release to you?" They said, "Barabbas!" {22} Pilate said to them, "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ [ha Mashiach]?" They all said to him, "Let Him be crucified!" {23} Then the governor said, "Why, what evil has He done?" But they cried out all the more, saying, "Let Him be crucified!" {24} When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it." {25} And all the people answered and said, "His blood be on us and on our children." [It has been so for the last 2000 years.]
(John 19:6–15 NKJV) Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." {7} The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God." {8} Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, {9} and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer. {10} Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" {11} Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." {12} From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar." {13} When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. {14} Now it was the Preparation Day of the [Judaic] Passover [which they would observe the next day on Abib or Nisan 15], and about the sixth hour [about noon]. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" {15} But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"
(Mark 15:15–20 NKJV) So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified. {16} Then the soldiers led Him away into the hall called Praetorium, and they called together the whole garrison. {17} And they clothed Him with purple; and they twisted a crown of thorns, put it on His head, {18} and began to salute Him, "Hail, King of the Jews!" {19} Then they struck Him on the head with a stick and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they kneeled in mock worship of Him. {20} And after they had ridiculed Him, they took the purple robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him on the execution stake.

Let's turn to an Old Testament prophesy of His scourging and beating, Isa 52:14.

14 Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage [viz'ij] was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men;

You might also reference Psa 22:1. We'll continue with another prophesy, Isa 53, starting in verse 1.

(Isa 53 NKJV) Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? {2} For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. {3} He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. {4} Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. {5} But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. {7} He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. {8} He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. {9} And they made His grave with the wicked; But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. {10} Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him [because God recognized the value of His sacrifice]; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul [i.e. His body] an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. {11} He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities. {12} Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors.
(Luke 23:26–31 NKJV) Now as they led Him away, they laid hold of a certain man, Simon a Cyrenian, who was coming from the country, and on him they laid the cross [the execution stake] that he might bear it after Jesus. [Not along with Jesus as shown in the movie.] {27} And a great multitude of the people followed Him, and women who also mourned and lamented Him. {28} But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. {29} "For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, wombs that never bore, and breasts which never nursed!' {30} "Then they will begin 'to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!"' {31} "For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will be done when it is dry?"

The quote in verse 30 is from Hos 10:8 and refers to the tribulation which, appears to be beginning as we speak.

(Mat 27:31–36 NKJV) And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified. {32} Now as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. Him they compelled to bear His cross. {33} And when they had come to a place called Golgotha, that is to say, Place of a Skull, {34} they gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink. {35} Then they nailed Him to the stake, and divided His clothing, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: "They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots." [Psalm 22:18] {36} Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there.
(John 19:19–22 NKJV) Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. {20} Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. {21} Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews."' " {22} Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."
(Luke 23:32–44 NKJV) There were also two others, criminals, led with Him to be put to death. {33} And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. {34} Then Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." And they divided His garments and cast lots. {35} And the people stood looking on. But even the rulers with them sneered, saying, "He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God." {36} The soldiers also mocked Him, coming and offering Him sour wine, {37} and saying, "If You are the King of the Jews, save Yourself." {38} And an inscription also was written over Him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. {39} Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us." {40} But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? {41} "And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." {42} Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom." {43} And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." [Notice where the comma goes.] {44} Now it was about the sixth hour [noon], and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour [about 3 PM].
(John 19:25–27 NKJV) Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. {26} When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" {27} Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
(Mat 27:46–50 NKJV) And about the ninth hour [3 PM] Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" [Our Father had to turn His back on Him.] {47} Some of those who stood there, when they heard that, said, "This Man is calling for Elijah!" {48} Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink. {49} The rest said, "Let Him alone; let us see if Elijah will come to save Him." {50} And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.

We started out saying that we would be persecuted. We also read that Christ was our example; that we should be willing to follow after Him.

Are we willing to suffer the indignation, the injustice, the pain, the embarrassment, for following Christ even through false accusations and rage from major religious figures and the gawking of friends, family and others around us? All the apostles did. Nearly all were martyred. Can we undergo the sufferings of Christ without retaliating verbally or physically?

(1 Pet 2:23 NASB) and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously;

I pray you will all give deep thought to what we have read near the anniversary day of our Savior's suffering and death.

Some comments made in this sermon were taken in part from "Barnes' Notes" and other sources.

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
26 March 2013
Copyright 2013, Wayne Bedwell

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