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The Trial of Pilate

The Trial of Pilate
Words of Faith 3-14-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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John 18
[29] So Pilate came out to them and asked, "What charges are you bringing against this man?"
[30] "If he were not a criminal," they replied, "we would not have handed him over to you."
[31] Pilate said, "Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law."
"But we have no right to execute anyone," the Jews objected. [32] This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled.
[33] Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

The appearance of Pilate before Jesus is an interesting one. Yes, you read that correctly. Although at the time it appeared that Jesus was on trial before Pilate, it was in fact Pilate’s trial before Jesus. While some saw a radical rabble-rouser hauled before the governor, the truth was that Pilate was standing before the King of kings and Lord of lords. How would he do?
Who was this man Pilate? He was the one directly responsible to the Emperor for management of the country. He had worked his way up to this position through political and military ranks. Though trusted by the Roman government, the Jewish people despised him.
Pilate had done everything possible to offend the Jewish people and arouse bitter hatred. While previous governors had been sensitive to the religion of Israel, Pilate would ride into town with a “graven” eagle atop the Roman standard, a huge offense. Pilate built a new water supply for Jerusalem but looted the Temple treasure in order to pay for it.
His brutal rule included the slaughter of certain Galileans while they were offering sacrifices in the Temple (Luke 13:1). We should be careful not to concoct too sympathetic an image of Pilate as he pondered the fate of Jesus. Still, he was a man, like any other man, broken and sinful, standing before the Messiah of God.
John presents Pilate as a politician faced with a difficult decision. Pilate's initial question was the normal opening inquiry of a trial: "What charges are you bringing against this man?" Pilate was proceeding by the usual routine of Roman law. The answer was elusive. The high priest no doubt knew that Jesus was not guilty of any crime under Roman law and that there was no evidence to support a charge. Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"
When we are faced with a difficult decision, what will we do? Pilate passed this first test in that he did not immediately rubber-stamp the urgent demand of the religious leaders. He looked a little deeper. This may have been because of his basic mistrust and distaste for the Jewish people but at least he made the effort to see what was going on.
Sometimes things are not as they are presented. “Urgent” matters are pushed before us. Will we look a little deeper or just go along with what is expedient? Will we appease the influential at the expense of the powerless? When an accusation is made against a person, will we inquire as to the veracity of the charge?
Such deliberation may concern a weighty matter such as service on jury trial or a passing matter such as a word of gossip. It may be a decision we must make within the family, neighborhood or workplace. But we should realize that the decisions we make often dramatically affect a person who is powerless to defend himself or herself.

Lord, help me look a little deeper today. Help me to listen a bit more carefully. Help me to discern wisely. Give me Your guidance. Give me Your eyes to see and Your ears to hear. In Jesus’ name.

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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2017
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.