Day 33: Jesus Before Pilate

Read John 18:28-40

Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?”Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate.Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising.

Read Matthew 27:11-31

Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. “Barabbas,” they answered. “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.


The Jewish people had authority to take care of their own legal issues when it came to religion. There is good evidence that at this time the Jewish Sanhedrin did not have authority to carry out capital punishment. This is why the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate (the governor), who had the authority under the Roman law to crucify. But, if this was a religious matter that the Jewish leaders were having with Jesus, then the Roman authorities did not want to get involved. Nevertheless, Jesus goes before Pilate. Notice what is said in Matthew 27:14, “But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.” In Greek this phrase “to the great amazement” is thausmadzo.

It means wonder; to be at a loss of words; or to be shocked and amazed. Pilate was at a loss by Jesus’ silence because Roman law permitted an accused prisoner three chances to say something to defend one’s self. If a prisoner did not say anything to defend himself, then he would be charged as “guilty.” Jesus’ three opportunities to defend Himself are in Matthew 27:11, 12 and 14. Jesus not defending Himself is a fulfillment of a prophecy written about His death in Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.” Pilate determines Jesus is innocent of breaking any Roman law and sees this as a religious matter. He responds to the crowd again of leading priests and people that have gathered, “I find nothing against this man. (Luke 23:4)” Pilate sees a legal loophole to release Jesus – the custom of setting a prisoner free at Passover. Thinking there is a way out for Jesus, Pilate offers the crowd a choice between the worse criminal, Barabbas, a known violent revolutionist or Jesus to be set free. But, the accusers would rather see Barabbas, the murderer set free. The tension grows and the crowd comes close to starting a riot as they begin to shout louder and louder, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate washes his hands as a response and tells the crowd, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours” (Matthew 27:24) What is the response of the angry crowd? “And all the people yelled back, ‘We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!’” (Matthew 27:25)

He was full of emotions, yet able to stand in silence.


What are you feeling and thinking after reading these passages? Does it break your heart? Does it leave you feeling silent and reflective? Can you imagine hearing the screams of the mob being caught up in their angry emotions and saying that they will take the responsibility of Jesus’ blood on themselves and their children? When emotions run deep, our words and behavior can get out of control. Sometimes, our words and actions cost us a high price. It’s best if we can take a breath and pause before speaking out of our emotional biases. Billy Graham put it this way, “We should ask ourselves three questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Does it glorify Christ?” Today, allow yourself to be quiet and reflective as you think about Jesus before Pilate. He was full of emotions, yet able to stand in silence. The crowd was full of emotions and shouted words that many of them no doubt regretted. These are two very different responses to emotional turmoil. As you have conversations with others, before you speak, think about how your words and actions influence people around you and have consequences. Jesus loves you so much that He suffered for you, and He wants to help you make good decisions. You can ask Him to help you with your emotions and responses.