Pondering Over the Case of Jesus
Text: Matthew 27 : 1 - 31
If Pilate ever needed good advice to help him judge well, it was now! The case before him seemed simple enough initially. A man called Jesus had been brought to him to be tried. Normally, the last thing the Jews would do was to involve the Romans in their affairs. They liked to resolve their problems by their religious laws. But this case was unusual in many ways.
1. An adequate case had not even been made out against Jesus by His accusers.
2. Jesus certainly could not be pronounced guilty of any crime that deserved the death penalty.
3. The envy and hatred of the Jews were astonishingly palpable!
4. Pilate offered to release Barabbas a notorious rebel and murderer as an attempt to thwart the wicked plans of the Sanhedrin Council.
While pondering over this case, his wife (traditionally called Procula Claudia) sought to share with him her personal thoughts. She was strangely and deeply troubled.
“While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him,
saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered
many things today in a dream because of Him.’ ”
AN UNUSUAL SOURCE OF ADVICE
It was unusual, to say the least, for the wife of a procurator to be involved in the adjudication of a case. But then the case concerned Jesus and His trial could not be described as “usual” at all. Pilate’s wife felt constrained to share her feelings for two compelling reasons.
1. Jesus described as a “Just Man”
The trial of Jesus did not take place in a private chamber. The Jews would not enter into the dwelling place of a Gentile. Pilate was forced to conduct the trial of Jesus out in the open. He did however sit on his official “judgment seat” to conduct the trial. Pilate’s wife could well have heard and seen all the proceedings. (Tradition also suggests that she had been secretly learning about Jesus and His teachings. Some even suggest that she was already a secret believer). As far as she could discern, Jesus was “a just man” and thus Pilate should have nothing to do with the case. In other words, she urged her husband to officially dismiss the case. That was good and sound advice. Those were the sentiments that Pilate himself personally felt.
2. “I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him”
What Procula Claudia meant was not very clear. What dreams or visions did she have? What did she suffer as a result of these dreams? How did the trial of Jesus affect her so terribly? We do not know the answers to all these questions, but we can imagine what she felt if she had a glimpse of Jesus standing before Pilate calm, serene and saying nothing. How He must have suffered from the beatings that He had to endure from those hateful Jews! How could people be filled with such animosity? A glimpse of Jesus standing there must have created a deep and lasting impression on her mind and heart. She may not actually be able to influence Pilate, but she must at least let her husband know how she felt.
WORKING THE MULTITUDES
The offer that Pilate made to the Jews did not have a response yet. The Jews were not the only ones who attended court that day. Before too long a multitude of people thronged the court. As the multitudes digested what Pilate offered, some were probably inclined to ask for the release of Jesus rather than Barabbas. The Sanhedrin Council of course couldn’t risk that and so they worked on the multitudes.
“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes
that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus.”
1. The finicky multitudes
The Jews read their own people only too well. They were easy to manipulate! They could be persuaded without too much difficulty. They were not like the disciples of Jesus who had been taught the Scriptures well. Untaught people were always easy to manipulate.
2. Persuading the multitudes
How could the Jews persuade the multitudes the way they did? Let us consider the following possibilities.
a) By intimidation
The presence of so many Sanhedrin Council members must have been quite a sight for many people. They were the spiritual leaders of the nation. They seemed so sure that Jesus must be condemned. Their involvement was an intimidating sight to behold.
b) Arguments old and new
The Jews had used many arguments to cause doubts to creep into people’s minds. What were some of the things that they could have used to speak against Jesus?
i) That Jesus was in league with the devil.
ii) That He was a law breaker.
iii) That He could cause Rome’s wrath to fall upon the nation.
The Jews were very creative in their wiles and plots against Jesus. They worked hard. They had to work swiftly too, for time was short! Would they succeed?