“Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.
“. . . . said unto them, Ye have brought this Man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined Him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse Him.
“And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath He done? I have found no cause of death in Him: I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.
“And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.”.
“Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained.”a.
Christ Jesus the Lord is God revealed in the flesh.
For that reason we see the strangest of contrasts in His life.
All through the ages the Holy Ghost signified that the Lamb of God would come to take away the sins of the world. And in the evening before His trial (so-called) we see the Lamb of God over against the Passover lamb which was eaten by the disciples of Jesus.
A little later we see the contrast of the rock that is Peter and the rock of ages that is Jesus. The first fails miserably, while on the second Rock the whole structure of God’s good pleasure is made to rest.
Still later there is a high priest, and the name is Caiaphas. But before Him is brought a man in whom all the high priests of the Old Testament find their fulfillment.
And in the texts that you read above this meditation we see two judges. The one judge is the governor of the Roman Empire, which is commissioned to keep order among the nation of the Jews, while the other
judge is Christ Jesus, who is commissioned of the Triune God to keep order with real justice, and presently to judge the world with equity. Oh yes, God has commissioned a man by whom He will judge the world. And there He stands: before Pilate, accused of His own nation.
It was early. But there was a great multitude afoot in this morning of all mornings. We read of the “whole multitude” which arose and brought Him to Pilate. And, besides, Jesus was very popular at this stage of His life on earth. A few days hence He had called Lazarus back to life, where he was laid in the tomb, being dead four days already. And the popularity of Jesus was so great that the rulers of the Jews feared that the “whole world” would finally follow Him. And thus, out of envy, they arose together and brought Him to Pilate.
Here we see the Church of God, instituted and kept by Him, in the persons of its leaders, bringing the Messiah to the world powers. And then with the declared intention to have Him condemned to death. He came unto His own, but His own received Him not.
Away with Him! Let us bring Him to Pilate, the world’s representative!
And thus the man who is destined to be the Judge of the whole universe is found before a miserable replica of a judge: Pontius Pilate.
Jesus before Pilate!
Jesus before Pilate!
And here a strange thing awaits us: Pontius Pilate would let Jesus go. If we read all the accounts of this mock-trial, it becomes clear that Pilate at four different occasions would let Jesus go; and if we include his wily action of sending Jesus to Herod, who also found Him innocent, it is on five different occasions that Pilate would let Jesus go free. Imagine: the world is more merciful (?) than the church. Or put it this way: the church institute in its corrupted state is more bloodthirsty than the world. There is no hatred like unto the hatred of corrupted religion.
Pilate, hearing the tumult, or being called by his servants to this sorry spectacle, comes with the sober question: what accusation do ye bring against this man?
And the answer given by the rulers of the Jews reveals their self-righteousness: If this man were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up to you!
But Pilate is not duped by this “pious” answer. He knew with whom he had to do. We read elsewhere that Pilate knew that they had delivered Him up out of envy.
But on the part of the Jews it reveals their burning hatred of Jesus.
And finally they do bring some sort of accusation against Jesus.
Oh, Pontius Pilate, here are the accusations: this fellow is trying to pervert the nation! He forbids the people to give tribute unto Caesar! And He makes Himself equal with God, calling Himself a King of some sort.
If you analyze these accusations, you will note how shrewdly they were chosen. They present a picture of fawning would-be docility to the powers that be. It is their avowed purpose to play upon the basest instincts of the dictator: this man may be a dangerous rebel. He perverts the nation; He may institute a riot which might grow into an insurrection; it might even swell into a real revolution.
It is plain that their purpose is to prejudice the judge. Besides, how false are their accusations! And how dangerous in that they constitute a mixture of truth and error.
Oh, yes, Christ is the King of God, but not an earthly King as they seemed to indicate to Pilate. And that He forbade people to give tribute to Caesar cannot mean that Jesus incited the people to withhold the taxes laid upon them, for we read that on one occasion the Lord instructed Peter to go and pay the tax for himself and for the Lord. Christ must have meant that we may not give a certain tribute to Caesar which we owe to the great Potentate of potentates, that is, our tribute to God.
And certainly the Lord was no “malefactor”. I would say that the earth, and the heavens and even hell gave its testimony to His goodness. As to the earth, we read that Christ went through the land, doing good. As to heaven, there was that testimony of Israel’s Jehovah: This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased! As to hell, there was the admission of the devil in this motley crowd of his foul children: We must seek for false witnesses! When you seek for false witnesses, you have already admitted that the accused is righteous.
And we might even solicit the testimony of the land of dreams: the wife of this would-be judge tells us of this righteous one!
Oh yes, Jesus is very righteousness itself!
But still, He must stand before Pilate!
The most dreadful anomaly of history: Jesus accused before the judge.
Why, it is the horror of all horrors: this same man is chosen of God to show forth the most wonderful justice in the day of days: He is the judge of the world!
And yet: Jesus stands before Pilate!
Jesus before Pilate!
At first it seems as though the trial (?) of Jesus will be of short duration. Pilate examines Jesus and comes before the people: I find no fault in this Man! And this conclusion is voiced by him time and time again. There is no question about it: Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent.
And here we have the great sin of this man Pilate: he should have released Jesus at once. And he should have arrested the leaders of the Jews because of defamation of character. And he should have told his soldiers to take their swords and clear the streets of this howling mob who were after the blood of their victim.
Note that this man is not at all moved by the question: is this man guilty or innocent, but by the selfish question: how can I get rid of this case without getting hurt myself. In this last word you have the key to his despicable performance: care for self. Note that when he persists in telling the Jews how innocent Jesus is, and when they finally answer him: If you let this man go you are not Caesar’s friend, he is ready at once: Christ is sacrificed on the altar of Pilate’s security.
Oh no, Pilate, it matters not that you wash your hands. You wash your hands indeed, but not in innocency. Look unto your hands: they are red with the blood of the great Innocentius!
Jesus before Pilate!
The world of so-called justice must give its answer to God’s question: What think you of innocence’s beauty?
And the answer is given by Pilate.
The sin of Pilate is that he obstructed the sway, the divine sway, of Justice. Unrighteousness prevailed in this so-called trial of Jesus.
Jesus before Pilate!
Jesus before Pilate!
Pilate is plainly afraid of Jesus.
There must have been a very majestic mien in Jesus’ appearance before this judge. Besides, we literally read that Pilate became the more afraid. Especially, since he received the message from his wife.
Then, too, the superstitious Roman had heard the Jews tell of this man that He claimed to be a Son of the God of the heaven and the earth.
And so we can somewhat understand that Pilate likes to get rid of Jesus. Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your own laws, he cries to the Jews. Later, he hears that Jesus is of the territory of Herod, and forthwith he sends Him to that wily fox. Still later, he will make a duo, a terrible duo: choose ye whom you want: Jesus or Barabbas! And you all know that Pilate thought: they certainly will not dare to choose a man who is both a murderer and a rebel.
What a mockery is this so-called trial of Jesus! Pilate does not know what to do with Jesus, but nevertheless scourges Him. He would like to release Him for he is afraid of Him, but fears the Jews: they might send a delegation to Caesar, and then his popularity in Rome is in jeopardy.
And the end is that Pilate chooses security for self, even at the expense of justice, and he becomes ripe for judgement.
Jesus before Pilate?
Jesus has no chance (?) at all before that corrupt man.
He is given over to their will. The soldiers come and take Jesus. They will have some sport with Him. Horrible, a thousand horrors multiplied! Sport, wicked sport with Jesus?! But He is the God of heaven and earth!
O God, have mercy upon us! They are men, even as we are. How is it possible that Thou didst not crush the whole universe at this wicked, horrible hour?!
Jesus cast away from before the tribunal of wicked Caesar!
Look strongly upon Him!
The Via Dolorosa is becoming very rocky indeed. He will be bruised very sore.
Jesus before Pilate?
Wait a minute. I would turn it about.
Very really: Pilate stood before Jesus, and then Pilate as the representative of the whole world.
This is not the trial of Jesus!
As I said before: everyone here around this tribunal knows that Jesus is innocent. Everyone has known that right along.
When I enumerated the testimonies of heaven and earth and hell in defense of Jesus’ innocence, I forgat the testimony of Judas: I have shed the innocent blood! And that is the testimony of him who is called a devil.
No, but the world was on trial.
And what a world!
First, there is the world of Rome. Rome had digested the wisdom of Greece. And Rome was the flaming torch of Justice in that time and in all succeeding time. Even to our own day, Rome’s code of justice is world-renowned.
And then there is the world of religion.
You bear me witness that there was no other nation on earth like the nation of the Jews! They had the oracles of God. They knew the law of God. They knew that the very name of God means that He is righteousness itself. And that He requires justice and equity. Every one of the howling priests, elders, Pharisees, and lawyers knew a certain text by heart: And what doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly?
And would anyone then hold that this was the trial of Jesus? In any sense of the word?
Oh no, but everyone said within his own heart: this Man is just, but I thirst for His blood!
Listen to us, O Pilate: His blood be upon us and upon our children. But let us have His blood!
And therefore, it was not Jesus who was on trial, but it was the world of Rome, of Greece, and of Israel.
The world of Israel. Later the Holy Ghost would call that worldly Israel Sodom and Egypt spiritually.
The whole world was on trial in the year of our Lord 33.
It is this: Pilate stands before Jesus!
Pilate, and then as the representative of the corrupt world of the heathen, of the refined culture of Greece, and of the self-righteous Pharisee in Israel, Pilate stands before the bar of the shining INNOCENCE of Jesus!
And that world is utterly condemned by Him.
Let us try to explain.
As I have said many times: Jesus was innocent! Do not grow weary of this repetition. You are going to hear it countless times unto all eternity.
And innocence personified said to the whole world: What will ye do with He? What do you think of Me?
And they answered Him: We hate Thee so much that we will drag Thee through the streets of Jerusalem, and there, at the place of the skull we will crucify Thee!
And that is our condemnation. When we so treat shining innocence, we condemn ourselves.
But why is this come about, O God of eternal, everlasting miracles?
Listen to our fathers: they have given us the answer in a dusty form: He was innocently condemned to death that we might be acquitted at the judgment seat of God!
O wonder of wonders! The innocent was made guilty by God so that the guilty might be made Innocent!
Sing aloud, thou inhabitant by Zion!