When Jesus was in the hands of Pilate he was taken out and scourged or whipped by the soldiers. It was at this time that they mocked and spat upon him calling Jesus the King of the Jews and making a crown of thorns to place on his head. Little did they understand the truth of their words and who it was they were mocking.
Pilate was in a difficult position. As the governor of Jerusalem by appointment from Caesar, he had to judge all the matters of the Jews and to ensure or enforce law and order. And yet here the Jews had brought Jesus, a man they wanted put to death, but Pilate could find no crime worthy of the death penalty in anything Jesus had said or done. Let us see what he did.
In his position Pilate was a judge of the people under the laws of Rome. The Roman Empire was built on a rule of law and was not a barbaric state but one in which every person had the right to appeal to the law and the rulers to obtain justice, such as it was.
When Jesus came before Pilate, he examined the case put to him by the Jews and could find no reason for executing Jesus as the Jews were demanding. Despite the actions of the soldiers who mocked, hit, taunted and spat upon Jesus, Pilate could not find a reason for him to judge Jesus worthy of death.
So Pilate took Jesus out to the people to release him saying that he found no guilt in Jesus and thus should not be held in custody, let alone put to death.
But the Jews rose up as an angry mob and cried out to Pilate to have Jesus put to death. They were using their own law, not the law of the Romans, to justify the death penalty saying that Jesus”ought to die under their law for, “…he has made himself the Son of God.”
This frightened Pilate and he determined to find out who Jesus was and what he was dealing with.
Pilate took Jesus inside again to examine him more closely. He asked “Where are you from?”Jesus gave him no answer.
At this Pilate then stated, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Pilate believed and was trying to show Jesus, that His life was in Pilate’s hands. That it was Pilate who could make the decision as to whether Jesus was to live or die.
Jesus knew otherwise. His comment is a lesson for us all. He said, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it was given you from above.”(verse 11)
In this simple statement we see that what was about to happen was not by the authority of men, but the authority of God. It was God who was in control of the situation and it was God’s plan that would be fulfilled. Pilate was merely a bit player in these proceedings for God’s authority was the stamp by which all that would happen, including the death and method of death that Jesus would suffer, would occur.
The lesson for us today is that ALL authority is from God. No person in a place of power is there by chance or by coincidence. All power and authority is determined by God, even when the rulers are bad, they are there for a purpose.
Consider Romans 9:17.
For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Pharaoh harassed and sought to destroy the Israelites as they fled Egypt under the leadership of Moses. But here we see that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was by the authority and will of God to show His power.
We see also that this principle of the authority on earth being controlled by God in Romans 13:1-5.
1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
2 Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
So the lesson for us here is to do good and we will not incur the wrath of the rulers, and the wrath of God. Even if the rulers are bad they are to be obeyed, providing their requests are not in conflict to the truth and the words of God. There may be and will be a time when we as Christians will need to make a stand against the rulers of this day, for evil times are ahead. However we must also realise that those same evil rulers have been appointed or allowed to come to power to do the will of God.
Meanwhile, back in the time of Jesus, Pilate took his seat on the judgment seat at a place called Gabbatha. He still tried to have Jesus released, but the Jews would not accept that. In spite of all his attempts to do so, they argued that to release Jesus who claimed to be a king (which of course He was and is today), that to do so was to oppose the kingship of Caesar.
At that point Pilate gave up and delivered Christ into the hands of the Jews to be executed. There was no more he could do, and in spite of his authority, as he perceived it, the authority of God over-ruled Pilate and Jesus was taken away to die as he had to do for the benefit of those who would come to God and find freedom in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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