Hello and welcome to this week’s final Foundations podcast. My name is Sarah & I am part of the student church here at STC. I’m really excited to share with you so a big thanks to Abby for letting me be her guest.
Today we’re going to be reading through Matthew’s account of Jesus’s trial before Pilate. You can follow along in your Bible starting at Matthew chapter 27 verse 11.
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.
These Jewish leaders felt threatened by Jesus’ growing popularity and his powerful teaching. They wanted to kill him but didn’t have the authority to impose the death sentence because the only charge they had against him, supposed blasphemy, wasn’t sufficient. In Luke’s gospel when the Jewish leaders bring Jesus before Pilate, they accuse him of misleading the nation, forbidding people to pay taxes, and claiming to be Christ the King. (Luke 23:1-2) Jesus calling himself the King of the Jews would be a direct challenge to Caesar’s rule. Pilate knows the Jewish leaders are not actually concerned about threats to Roman rule but are jealous of Jesus’ popularity and worried about a potential riot.
In the trial, Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews to which he replies, “You have said so.” Pilate presses on wondering if Jesus has even heard the accusations against him – but Jesus says nothing. Jesus was innocent and yet he was silent in front of his accusers. At first this baffled me.
His response to Pilate seems filled with passivity and indifference. When people accuse me of doing things I haven’t done, I feel indignant, I often respond with anger and will try to justify and explain myself. Jesus’ response is so calm though – he is trusting his Father in this moment and doesn’t react hastily. His quiet confidence in God means that he doesn’t need to explain who he is or justify his actions to Pilate. I wish I had this solid identity in God and certainty in him. Like me, Pilate was amazed at Jesus’ refusal to defend himself. But part of the answer why Jesus says nothing is in the prayer he prayed at the garden of Gethsemane: “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36) Jesus prays for a way out but ultimately trusts God’s sovereignty and puts his identity in him. Where in our lives can we respond in love instead of reacting with anger? Where do we need to prioritise God’s will above our own?
This passage fulfils the prophecy that Isaiah made in the old testament (chapter 53): “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth… for the transgression of my people, he was punished.”
Another thing to consider is how much of a role reversal this situation is: the eternal Son of God and creator of heaven is standing before a human judge who is flawed, finite and unjust. It should be humanity being judged by God but Jesus takes our place. This leaves me in awe… Would you take time today to consider again how radical and sacrificial that is? That God takes our place on the judgement seat.
God, thank you that you took our place on the cross; although you were innocent, you were judged guilty and died instead of us. We are so grateful. Would you help us to find our identity in you and trust your will above ours? Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 27:11-26
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.