Title: Gospel of John [18:25-27]. Christ's trials, part 4. Before Pilate.
After the trial at night there was a brief intermission and then another gathering was held in the very early morning in which more members of the Sanhedrin attended. Their decision was already made and now they would present their findings to almost the whole assembly. It was not really another trial but a matter of an official resolution as to what to do with Jesus of Nazareth. Official is the key word because this was already determined - He would be taken to Pilate.
Third trial - a gathering of the Sanhedrin in the morning in order to officially resolve to bring Him to Pilate in the hope of achieving the death penalty.
This is not recorded by John.
Now when morning had come, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away, and delivered Him up to Pilate the governor.
To the first gathering Matthew states that scribes and elders were gathered together. Now he states that all were gathered to decide how they may carry out the death sentence - bind Him and take Him to Pilate.
And early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes, and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away, and delivered Him up to Pilate.
Then the whole body of them arose and brought Him before Pilate.
It may be that they again asked Him if He was the Christ so that the rest of the assembly who were not there a few hours ago could hear it. They may have brought the two witnesses forward again. This trial is just a formality. The decision is that He is worthy of death and so should be brought to Pilate.
The fourth trial: Before Pontius Pilate.
JOH 18:28 They led Jesus therefore from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium in order that they might not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.
The priests were afraid that they might not be able to eat the festive offering (Chagigah) sacrificed on the morning after the Passover.
Passover refers not only the Paschal Supper but to other offerings given during the Passover. A Chagigah or festive offering was brought on the first festive Paschal Day.
The Paschal lamb was killed on the eve of the 14th of Nisan, between the time of the sun beginning to decline and darkness. That lamb was eaten that night. Whatever was not consumed was burnt on the spot.
According to the Rabbis a Chagigah was offered on the morning of the 14th and a second one was offered on the morning of the 15th, the first day of the feast of unleavened bread. It is this second one that the priests and elders were afraid they might be unable to eat if they contacted defilement in the judgment hall of Pilate. This offering was considered part of the Passover as was the feast of unleavened bread which followed immediately after. Quite often they referred to the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread as one and calling it Passover - lasting eight days, as Josephus refers to it.
It is very likely there were idols and certainly leaven in the house of Pilate and they had come to believe that entering such a house would make a person complicit in idol worship and so would be unclean for the day and would have to immerse for cleansing that night.
This may have occurred in the Antonia fortress which was just northwest of the temple or in the palace of Herod which is on the western wall.
Jesus is inside and they are outside. Which one is clean and which are defiled?
What is greater, ceremonial defilement or moral defilement of the soul in proceeding in greed, lust, and injustice?
Pilate was very likely a military tribune or a staff officer in a Roman legion and proceeded directly to the governorship of Judaea through political connections. He has under his command about 5,000 men. His headquarters is in Caesarea but because of the large amount of people that came to Jerusalem during the Passover he stays there, in this case with his wife, with about 1,000 men at his command.
In the roughly ten years of his governorship Pilate has experienced several difficulties from the Jews.
Josephus narrated three incidents of Pilate's governorship that illustrate the difficulties faced by the Roman rulers in Judea.
He sent a military unit to garrison duty in Jerusalem using standards that displayed images of the emperor. The Romans didn't do this up to this time and the images were seen as idols to the Jews. According to Josephus, Pilate did this deliberately.
Pilate later organized a water supply for Jerusalem that he attempted to finance with temple funds. This caused a violent demonstration, which Pilate suppressed by police action, instructing his soldiers to use their batons instead of swords. Disregard of his orders caused several deaths. This affair may be the mysterious massacre of Galileans recorded by Luke.
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.
Once Pilate set shields bearing an innocuous dedication to the emperor on the walls of his residence at Jerusalem. The infuriated Jewish leaders sent a mission of protest to Tiberius in Italy, and Tiberius ordered the removal of the shields to the temple of Augustus in pagan Caesarea.
In his tenth year of office Pilate found it necessary to suppress an armed concourse of fanatics in Samaria who were trying to excavate holy vessels of Moses that they thought were buried there. The mob was ambushed, many died, and many of the survivors were executed. The city council of Samaria protested the action to the governor of Syria, who sent Pilate back to face an investigation by the emperor at Rome. Pilate later, around 40 AD committed suicide after being tried and condemned for this.
More continued unrest under Pilate's command could result in the emperor exiling him or worse. Pilate is motivated to keep things calm.
It is early morning. A Roman official liked to begin his work at dawn and get it over with as early as possible in the day.
An outline of the case had probably been conveyed to Pilate in advance, and they hoped that he would be satisfied with this and conduct no further inquiry. But a Roman governor had complete discretion in deciding how to exercise his imperium, and Pilate decided to open a new trial. And so he asked them to state their charge against the man.
JOH 18:29 Pilate therefore went out to them, and said, "What accusation do you bring against this Man?"
JOH 18:30 They answered and said to him, "If this Man were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you."
In other words, you can trust us, there is no need of inquiry.
Evil doesn't want investigation. It desires that you accept its conclusions at face value. They claim to be wise enough or wiser than you, making your own investigation incompetent and worthless.
But Pilate is a man of Roman justice and he will not capitulate to their scheme, even though he is fully aware that they desire a capital charge. So far they haven't said so formally and so Pilate inquires.
Pilate states: if He has broken your laws then take Him and judge Him by them. They protest: we can't inflict the death penalty.
JOH 18:31 Pilate therefore said to them, "Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law." The Jews said to him, "We are not permitted to put anyone to death,"
JOH 18:32 that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled, which He spoke, signifying by what kind of death He was about to die.
When Judaea became a Roman province in AD 6 and a Roman prefect was appointed by the emperor to govern it, the prerogative of capital punishment was expressly reserved to him.
And in verse 32, John sees a special significance in the deprevation of this right.
God decreed that Rome remove the right of capital punishment from the Jews so that Jesus' death would be by crucifixion.
If the Jews had been allowed to execute Jesus they would have done so by stoning, as we see them doing with Steven in Act 7. No doubt in the case of Stephen they were able to cover it up. Jesus is far too popular to be able to do this. They need the Romans to execute Him.
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die.
For dogs have surrounded me;
A band of evildoers has encompassed me;
They pierced my hands and my feet.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"
Speaking of the piercing by the Roman soldier into the side of Jesus soon after His death on the cross…
"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
JOH 19:32 The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him;
JOH 19:33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs;
JOH 19:34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.
JOH 19:35 And he who has seen has borne witness, and his witness is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe.
JOH 19:36 For these things came to pass, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, "Not a bone of Him shall be broken."
He keeps all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.
JOH 19:37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."
At His Second Coming all will see Him pierced:
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
Since Pilate is telling them to judge Jesus according to their law they are forced to bring in more specific accusations.
LUK 23:2 And they began to accuse Him, saying, "We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King."
The accusation of forbidding to pay taxes is sedition which the Romans took seriously. This prompts Pilate to interview Jesus.
This is a flat out lie. The Lord instructed the Jews to pay taxes to Caesar and to give to God what belongs to Him, which was their hearts in honor and worship.
And He said to them, "Whose likeness and inscription is this?" They said to Him, "Caesar's." Then He said to them, "Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He made no answer. Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so that the governor was quite amazed.
Yet Christ doesn't speak out. He doesn't shout out in the court or object and claim it to be the lie that it is. Why?
He is taking every indignity, mockery, blow, spit, and lie in revealing that He will take their judgment on the cross.
LUK 23:3 And Pilate asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" And He answered him and said, "It is as you say."
JOH 18:33 Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, "Are You the King of the Jews?"
Anyone who claimed kingship in a Roman province denied the sovereignty of Caesar and so could be guilty of sedition. Pilaite doesn’t find a basis for sedition.
18:34Jesus answered, "Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?"
18:35Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?"
Jesus asks this for Pilate’s sake. “Do you ask this because of My public conduct or because the Jews are using you to put Me on trial?”
"This is my court. They brought you to me but I am not one of them. What do I care about their so-called Messiah. And if their Messiah did come, they say He will make them rule the world as us Roman's do now. If any man attempts that, I will execute him. I don't care about Messiahs, I care about Rome, so since they brought you to me, and they say that you claim to be the king of the Jews, tell me what you have done that would be against