Day 11 Pilate’s Fear

Pilate’s Fear

As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin”    John 19:6-11

It is early morning of the Jewish Passover day. The Jewish leaders are putting as much pressure as possible on the Roman governor, Pilate, to have Jesus executed. So far they have been frustrated. Pilate does not want to be dictated to by the chief priests and their officials.

But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”’ Again Pilate publicly declares Jesus’ innocence and taunts the Jews by telling them to crucify Him, knowing they have no authority to (18:31). But because the Jews had failed having Jesus put to death by Roman law, they now insist, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” This seems to be an echo of the trial before Caiaphas where Jesus was accused of blasphemy (Mark 14:61-64). Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God was tantamount to claiming to be God Himself, which was to them blasphemy and punishable by death.

Pilate was under no obligation to any Jewish law but the claim on Jesus’ part that He was the son of God caused him some alarm. ‘When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace.’ Pilate may have been a superstitious pagan but on top of all this, Matthew tells us Pilate’s wife had passed a message onto her husband to have nothing to do with Jesus “that innocent man” after she had a troubling dream about Him (Matthew 27:19).

“Where do you come from?” he asked.’ He wants Jesus to tell him if He’s from heaven or earth To Pilate’s consternation, ‘Jesus gave him no answer.’ Pilate interpreted Jesus’ silence as a challenge to his authority. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realise I have power either to free you or crucify you?” Pilate is reminding Jesus of the power invested in him as governor of Judea, the power of life and death over someone like Jesus. ‘Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above.”’ Pilate believed his power came from the Roman Emperor. While this was true from a human perspective Jesus was quick to add, “You would have no power over me if it were not given you from above.” God raises up kings and emperors and deposes them as He wills. The power Pilate wielded over Jesus was power given to him by God. Jesus recognised Pilate was carrying out a God-given responsibility, even if he was not doing it with justice or courage.

Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” It was Caiaphas who handed over Jesus to Pilate (18:28-30) and it was Caiaphas and the other leaders who had been exposed to the light of God’s truth but who had done everything in their power to have it put out.

Our lives must be living examples of continuing obedience to Jesus. Each obedience makes the next one easier, just as each disobedience makes the next disobedience easier. Walking in the light is conditional on our free and loving obedience to the Light of the world, our precious and lovely Saviour, Jesus.

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