A. Stage #1 of Roman Trial: Jesus Before Pilate for the First Time
Notes: In order to avoid defiling themselves by entering a Gentile domicile, the Jewish leadership (who were going about the greatest crime in the history of mankind) had induced Pilate to set up his court on the pavement (i.e., outside). The Roman procurator was contemptuous of the Jews and all of their issues, but this Nazarene had fomented much trouble over the last years, and especially during this very volatile week of Passover. Thus, he consents to hear the case. Notice that the Sanhedrinists try to bluff Pilate into condemning Jesus simply because they demanded it, but Pilate would have none of that. It is at this time that Pilate takes Jesus alone into his palace for a private interview (John 18:33-37). It is here that Pilate for the first of five times declares Jesus innocent (John 18:38; Luke 23:4).
Questions/Observations: It is interesting to consider the impact that Jesus had upon Pilate. Note especially Paul's injunction to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12. Evidently, Jesus's "confession" before Pilate was well remembered by the early church, and they found in that confession a model of how to live out the truth of God's Word before a hostile and dangerous world.
B. Meanwhile, Judas Commits Suicide
Scripture: Matthew 27:3-10
Notes: Judas was a thief; he loved his sin more than he loved what he knew to be the truth. He was ever more enslaved to sin until He committed the most awful treachery in man's sorry history. But with all of that he could not escape the undeniable truth of Jesus's person and work; thus, his tragic and pitiful end.
C. Stage #2 of Roman Trial: Jesus Very Briefly Before Herod Antipas
Scripture: Luke 23:6-12
Notes: In the first stage of the trial (above), Pilate heard Jesus's accusers claim that He had begun His ministry in "Galilee." Pilate's jurisdiction did not include Galilee, and the governor of Galilee was in town (probably in the same palace) for the feast. So, Pilate tries to get Herod (the governor of Galilee and Perea and son of Herod the Great) to deal with this unspeakably difficult issue.
D. Stage #3 of Roman Trial: Jesus Before Pilate Again
Notes: Pilate did not want to execute Jesus. He made several attempts to placate the hatred of the Jewish leadership and release Jesus (including the scourging), but was frustrated in every one. When the Jews (probably by this time both the leaders and the city, which was waking up) threatened to tell Caesar that Pilate was willing to tolerate a seditionist in his province, Pilate capitulated and turned Jesus over to be crucified. (Pilate had used up all his favors in Rome and knew he would probably not survive that sort of a report.) Thus, about 6:00 a.m., Jesus is condemned to die by Roman crucifixion.
Questions/Observations: Notice that it is at this stage of the trial that Jesus is again taken in the palace for a private interview with Pilate (John 19:8-13). Contemplate carefully the statement of Jesus to Pilate in John 19:11; it is a "good confession."
E. Jesus Is Abused as the Cross Is Prepared
Notes: This doubtless occurred at the hands of the Roman soldiers, as the place of crucifixion was made ready, and perhaps as they waited for the city to awaken in order to witness the awful spectacle. The Romans had framed crucifixion primarily as a means of putting down sedition. With that in mind, they were anxious for it to be witnessed widely in order that any impulse to revolt would be suppressed.
Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).
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