Silence Can Be Loud

Early in the morning the chief priests with the elders and scribes and the whole Council, immediately held a consultation; and binding Jesus, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate.

Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him, “It is as you say.”

The chief priests began to accuse Him harshly.

Then Pilate questioned Him again, saying, “Do You not answer? See how many charges they bring against You!”

But Jesus made no further answer; so Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them any one prisoner whom they requested. The man named Barabbas had been imprisoned with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the insurrection. The crowd went up and began asking him to do as he had been accustomed to do for them.

Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead.

Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?”

They shouted back, “Crucify Him!”

But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified. (Mark 15:1-15)

Jesus merely agreed with the truth; he never sought to defend himself or to argue a point. Pilate was amazed by the silence of Jesus. He had seen numberless criminals. He knew criminals were quick to claim innocence.
But Jesus was different. He acknowledged that he was the King of the Jews. In a world where only Rome decided who was king and who was not, that made Jesus guilty as charged. But Pilate wasn’t buying it. Jesus didn’t act like some pretender to the throne. He didn’t strut, he didn’t offer excuses.

So Pilate decided that Jesus really was innocent. But Pilate had to pander to what the mob wanted in order to keep the mob from turning against him and destroying his career.

It is not easy to do the right thing, even when you know what the right thing is and you want to do it. When faced with the choice of doing the right thing, or keeping his job, Pilate chose to keep his job. Most people today will do the same thing: they will just follow orders and procedure. But Jesus asks us to follow him.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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