15 – Before the Roman Governor

15 – Before the Roman Governor 2017-01-07T00:50:56+00:00

Sabbath, April 15, 2017

“Satan assailed Him [Christ] in every point, yet He sinned not in thought, word, or deed. He did no violence, neither was guile found in His mouth. Walking in the midst of sin, He was holy, harmless, undefiled. He was wrongfully accused, yet He opened not His mouth to justify Himself. How many now, when accused of that of which they are not guilty, feel that there is a time when forbearance ceases to be a virtue, and losing their temper, speak words which grieve the Holy Spirit?” –(Manuscript 42, 1901) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 4, p. 1148.

From one court to another

1. After condemning and binding Jesus, where did the chief priests and elders take Him? Who surrounded the divine Master when He was taken from the Jewish tribunal to the court of Pilate?

Mark 15:1 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. 

Matthew 27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 

Luke 23:1 And the whole multitude of them arose, and led him unto Pilate. 

John 18:28 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.

“In the judgment hall of Pilate, the Roman governor, Christ stands bound as a prisoner. About Him are the guard of soldiers, and the hall is fast filling with spectators. Just outside the entrance are the judges of the Sanhedrin, priests, rulers, elders, and the mob. 

“After condemning Jesus, the council of the Sanhedrin had come to Pilate to have the sentence confirmed and executed. But these Jewish officials would not enter the Roman judgment hall. According to their ceremonial law they would be defiled thereby, and thus prevented from taking part in the feast of the Passover. In their blindness they did not see that murderous hatred had defiled their hearts. They did not see that Christ was the real Passover lamb, and that, since they had rejected Him, the great feast had for them lost its significance.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 723.

Accusations

2. When Pilate saw the Innocent One, what did he ask Jesus’ accusers? 

John 18:29 Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 

“Pilate looked at the men who had Jesus in charge, and then his gaze rested searchingly on Jesus. He had had to deal with all kinds of criminals; but never before had a man bearing marks of such goodness and nobility been brought before him. On His face he saw no sign of guilt, no expression of fear, no boldness or defiance. He saw a man of calm and dignified bearing, whose countenance bore not the marks of a criminal, but the signature of heaven. 

“Christ’s appearance made a favorable impression upon Pilate. His better nature was roused. He had heard of Jesus and His works. His wife had told him something of the wonderful deeds performed by the Galilean prophet, who cured the sick and raised the dead…. 

“Who is this Man, and wherefore have ye brought Him? he said. What accusation bring ye against Him? The Jews were disconcerted. Knowing that they could not substantiate their charges against Christ, they did not desire a public examination. They answered that He was a deceiver called Jesus of Nazareth.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 724.

3. What did the Jewish accusers answer the Roman governor? What was implied in their response?

John 18:30 They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee.

“When those composing the Sanhedrin, the first men of the nation, bring to you a man they deem worthy of death, is there need to ask for an accusation against him? They hoped to impress Pilate with a sense of their importance, and thus lead him to accede to their request without going through many preliminaries. They were eager to have their sentence ratified; for they knew that the people who had witnessed Christ’s marvelous works could tell a story very different from the fabrication they themselves were now rehearsing.

“The priests thought that with the weak and vacillating Pilate they could carry through their plans without trouble. Before this he had signed the death warrant hastily, condemning to death men they knew were not worthy of death. In his estimation the life of a prisoner was of little account; whether he were innocent or guilty was of no special consequence. The priests hoped that Pilate would now inflict the death penalty on Jesus without giving Him a hearing. This they besought as a favor on the occasion of their great national festival.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 724, 725.

4. Did this convince Pilate that the Accused was guilty? What did he tell them? 

John 18:31 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.

“If your judgment is sufficient, he said, why bring the prisoner to me? ‘Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law.’ Thus pressed, the priests said that they had already passed sentence upon Him, but that they must have Pilate’s sentence to render their condemnation valid. What is your sentence? Pilate asked. The death sentence, they answered; but it is not lawful for us to put any man to death. They asked Pilate to take their word as to Christ’s guilt, and enforce their sentence. They would take the responsibility of the result.

“Pilate was not a just or a conscientious judge; but weak though he was in moral power, he refused to grant this request. He would not condemn Jesus until a charge had been brought against Him.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 725.

5. When the Jews saw that they could not obtain the death sentence without a judicial action, what false accusations did they begin to make?

Luke 23:2 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 a King. 

“Only a few days before this the Pharisees had tried to entrap Christ with the question, ‘Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar?’ But Christ had unveiled their hypocrisy. The Romans who were present had seen the utter failure of the plotters, and their discomfiture at His answer, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s.’ Luke 20:22-25. 

“Now the priests thought to make it appear that on this occasion Christ had taught what they hoped He would teach. In their extremity they called false witnesses to their aid, ‘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 a King.’ Three charges, each without foundation. The priests knew this, but they were willing to commit perjury could they but secure their end.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 725, 726.

Addressing the Accused

6. After hearing the accusations, what did Pilate ask Jesus? What answer did the Saviour give to one of those allegations?

John 18:33 Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 

Luke 23:3 And Pilate asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answered him and said, Thou sayest it. 

“Pilate saw through their purpose. He did not believe that the prisoner had plotted against the government. His meek and humble appearance was altogether out of harmony with the charge. Pilate was convinced that a deep plot had been laid to destroy an innocent man who stood in the way of the Jewish dignitaries. Turning to Jesus he asked, ‘Art Thou the King of the Jews?’ The Saviour answered, ‘Thou sayest it.’ And as He spoke, His countenance lighted up as if a sunbeam were shining upon it.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 726.

Quiet as a lamb

7. What attitude did Jesus maintain as the priests raised all kinds of objections and accusations? What prophecy had foretold this?

Mark 15:3-5 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing. 4And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. 

Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 

“When they heard His answer, Caiaphas and those that were with him called Pilate to witness that Jesus had admitted the crime with which He was charged. With noisy cries, priests, scribes, and rulers demanded that He be sentenced to death. The cries were taken up by the mob, and the uproar was deafening. Pilate was confused. Seeing that Jesus made no answer to His accusers, Pilate said to Him, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against Thee. But Jesus yet answered nothing.’ 

Standing behind Pilate, in view of all in the court, Christ heard the abuse; but to all the false charges against Him He answered not a word. His whole bearing gave evidence of conscious innocence. He stood unmoved by the fury of the waves that beat about Him. It was as if the heavy surges of wrath, rising higher and higher, like the waves of the boisterous ocean, broke about Him, but did not touch Him. He stood silent, but His silence was eloquence. It was as a light shining from the inner to the outer man.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 726.

Thought questions

  • Was it just Pilate’s demand that meant the defendant needed to be examined, or did the Holy Scriptures require proper procedures in such cases?
  • How can one explain the fact that the Jewish leaders, who knew the Bible and had the instructions concerning justice in their hands, came to a wrong conclusion, while a pagan–Pilate–could understand who Jesus was and what He stood for? 
  • Are we able to suffer false accusation and still maintain a calm, inoffensive spirit, as did Jesus?

For additional study 

“Jesus held His peace. ‘He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth.’ Isaiah 53:7.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 706.

“One class have come up without self-control; they have not bridled the temper or the tongue; and some of these claim to be Christ’s followers, but they are not. Jesus has set them no such example…. Some are … unreasonable, and not easily persuaded or convinced. They are not sane; Satan for the time has full control. Every one of these exhibitions of wrath weakens the nervous system and the moral powers, and makes it difficult to restrain anger on another provocation.

“With this class there is only one remedy–positive self-control under all circumstances. The effort to get into a favorable place, where self will not be annoyed, may succeed for a time; but Satan knows where to find these poor souls, and will assail them in their weak points again and again. They will be continually troubled so long as they think so much of self…. But there is hope for them. Let this life, so stormy with conflicts and worries, be brought into connection with Christ, and then self will no longer clamor for the supremacy….” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 142.