The Accusations of the Jews
Text: Matthew 27 : 1 - 31
Pilate was puzzled. He had received many complaints against Jesus! How should he proceed?
“And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders,
He answered nothing. Then Pilate said to Him, ‘Do You not hear
how many things they testify against You?’
But He answered him not one word, so that the governor
Matthew did not make a list of the things that Jesus was accused of, except to say that there were “many things” spoken against Him. In recording the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin Council, it was already noted that the charges against Jesus were spurious, and therefore there really was no need to make a list of these accusations.
1. Pilate was concerned
He felt concerned because there were so many charges laid against Jesus! Surely, any ordinary man would be concerned about defending himself, if his life depended on it.
2. Jesus was unconcerned
The silence of Jesus baffled Pilate. He appeared totally unconcerned about the many charges of His accusers!
3. Pilate was impressed
Obviously, he had never come across a man like Jesus! How could He remain as serene and as composed as He was!
a) Silence did not mean “defeat”
Jesus did not give the impression that He was resigned to being defeated by so many enemies!
b) Silence reflected an inner peace
The silence of Jesus was so different! There was a sense of calmness that defied logical explanation! How could a man face the prospect of being crucified with such calmness?
A PECULIAR CUSTOM
How was Rome’s justice administered in the provinces? We have an almost classic example seen in the way Pilate handled the case of The Jews versus Jesus.
“Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing
to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished.”
This was not something that every Roman governor practised. This gesture was a display of brinkmanship on the part of Pilate.
1. It displayed the power of Rome
Imprisonment displayed the might and power of Rome. Pilate upheld the might of Rome by exercising the right to imprison or to release a prisoner.
2. It was an attempt to magnify his own personal stature
Pilate figured that if he were to release a prisoner on the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, a major event in the Jewish religious calendar, he could win some political points with the masses.
3. It was an attempt to placate the difficult Jewish population
Rome had more than 40 provinces to look after. Few were as difficult to rule as Judea and Samaria. As a political move, Pilate made it his custom to release a prisoner of their choice. The release of one prisoner a year may not seem like much, but surely he couldn’t be expected to release more!
AN ATTEMPT AT BARGAINING
Pilate figured that the Jews couldn’t pass up the bargain that he was going to offer them. He had seen how the Jews traded. He had seen how successful some of the businessmen were. If anyone knew how to bargain, the Jews did. Surely, the Jews would choose the correct decision.
“And at that time they had a notorious prisoner
called Barabbas. Therefore, when they had gathered together,
Pilate said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to release to you?
Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?’
For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.”
1. Notorious Barabbas versus Jesus
Pilate figured that with a toss-up like that, surely the Jews would choose Jesus! The synoptist Mark made this observation concerning Barabbas.
“And there was one named Barabbas,
who was chained with his fellow-rebels;
they had committed murder in the rebellion.”
A rebel and a murderer to boot! Surely the choice couldn’t be clearer or simpler? In Pilate’s mind, any normal, thinking person would have preferred to keep Barabbas in prison.
2. Because of envy
As Pilate analysed the case before him, he came to an obvious fact. The Jews envied Jesus to the point of hatred! But surely there were limits to envious hatred?