Execution it must be! Such went the emotional verdict among the Jewish leaders. These men had been steeped in growing throes of hatred for the man Jesus over the previous two to three years. It had come to its climax after Judas’ betrayal. There was an all-night pseudo-trial, and they declared their long intended verdict. The Passover was to be a time of national celebration, but they were unwittingly culminating national destruction.
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. (Mark 15:1-5–ESV)
Injustice washes its hands of Jesus
So the night had finally passed. The cock had crowed and Peter had wept (see the end of Chapter 14). With the dawn came decision time and the ruling body at that pseudo-trial assembled. They formally declared their long intentions for his execution, and made arrangements to send him to Pilate. Jesus had rode into Jerusalem not quite a week before this. That had been his declaration as the King of the Jews. The populace had flared up in what would be a short lived welcome. The rulers flared up in a long-lived rejection.
In the parable of the tenants Jesus had said the owner/father would eventually send the son. The son was killed by those tenants. That parable was also prophetic and here the prophecy is being born out. The Jews want to be done with Jesus as the Christ and they have acted upon their wants. They have thrown him out. It was a terrible council, but not one unforeseen.
“State your name for the court”
The Romans had installed Pilate as the authority in Palestine. He may have slept well while the Jews were plying their intentions, but a new headache showed up on his porch in the morning. Some say, “look what the cat dragged in.” Here we could say, “look what the Jews dragged in.” The day that would follow on this morning would seal Pilate’s place among the villains of history. To such villainy he could have abstained and indeed some may still feel sorry for his predicament. Sorry or not he continued the injustice. Let us see how it goes.
Mark does not record a whole lot of things here. Pilate seems to “verify” the notions of the Jews that Jesus is some sort of king of theirs. No real king of the Jews would ever be handed over to Pilate in such ignominy though. Insurrections and rebellions were frequent even in Palestine, but never did the leaders get handed over in such fashion as Jesus the Christ was. So, right from the outset Pilate knew something was different about this fellow.
Jesus accepted the title that he had been given, but went no further.
Prosecution, but no self-defense
The identity of the accused being lodged the floor was handed to the Jewish attorneys. They brought many charges the specifics of which Mark did not choose to record, but the manner of them can be discerned by the consideration of the words from chapter 14. They would have been tweaked toward treason for Pilate. Pilate is the one with the jurisdiction and authority unto execution. To place Jesus the Christ into the category of insurrectionists would have been the best move for them.
Pilate offered time of defense for Jesus, but Jesus did not rise to that occasion. Such an approach was very unusual. Pilate would have seen the flimsy character of the arguments being brought. Surely Pilate recognized the ease with which at least certain of the accusations could have been overturned.
Jesus left all of that alone picking up none of the arguments that would have been in his favor. That amazed Pilate as it was unusual in the first degree. Jesus had admitted to the treasonable charge, but had not defended himself in any manner.
Jesus gave himself up for those who would have him
Many nights in the life of Christ had been spent in prayer. He understood what God the Father would have him do, and that was an understanding in place since the beginning of mankind. Jesus had displayed obedience throughout his 33 years and would not abandon that now.
The “problem” that Jesus would have was his own capability in refuting the Pharisees. One does not have to look far in the interactions of Jesus with the Pharisees to see that he upends their arguments with a startling alacrity. Had Jesus chosen to defend himself I think that the arguments would have been so powerful that he would not have been executed. He who called worlds into existence and understands the minds of his creatures more even than they could have rebutted all things with penultimate effect. BUT…he did not.
Jesus let things take their course by omitting any response. It is as though he dropped his hands in a boxing match allowing a knock-out punch.
There were those who would have Jesus, but the only way for them to have Jesus was through his death. They could not know that, but Jesus did.
What can we learn from this?
- The crucifixion was a response of God’s justice allowing for our redemption.
- Submission to God the Father in these ultimate things was the most valuable thing.
- Obedience was at the forefront of Christ’s approach to life.
- Personal injustice was not to be fought against. Jesus left that up to God.
- God knows more than we do (surely that is an understatement that we don’t live by).
- God’s purposes may be obscure in an ultimate degree, but good they always will be.