What He Said

The whole body of got up and brought Him before Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, and saying that He Himself is Christ, a King.”

So Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He answered him and said, “It is as you say.”

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.”

But they kept on insisting, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching all over Judea, starting from Galilee even as far as this place.”

When Pilate heard it, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was in Jerusalem at that time.

Now Herod was very glad when he saw Jesus; for he had wanted to see Him for a long time, because he had been hearing about Him and was hoping to see some sign performed by Him. (Luke 23:1-8)

Just because you do what God wants, doesn’t mean you won’t be punished. Israel’s religious establishment was attempting to get Jesus executed for being the leader of a rebellion. Hadn’t Jesus just admitted his guilt by answering Pilate’s question with a “yes?” Why then did Pilate conclude that he was not guilty?

Pilate could see through the accusations and understood that the disagreement between Jesus and his accusers was purely religious. And the Roman government had absolutely no interest in getting involved with religious disputes. Therefore, Pilate saw no point in entertaining the charges.

When he learned that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate thought he might be able to solve his problem by making him someone else’s problem. Herod was in charge of Galilee. Pilate, who only had jurisdiction in Judea, wasn’t responsible for Galileans. But Herod just sent him back.

Pilate, like most government officials anywhere, was concerned primarily with keeping his job. The issue of Jesus could easily blow up in his face. In the end, for the sake of for civil order and thereby keeping his job, he was willing to sacrifice Jesus.

Pilate carried out the will of Jesus’ Father: Jesus was supposed to die on that Roman cross. Pilate actually made the right choice. But he did it for all the wrong reasons and in all the wrong ways. Just because you do God’s will doesn’t mean you’re not doing the wrong thing.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. 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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