Jesus before Pilate

This is written by Tom Cross. He is married to Camilla, father to Jago.

Mark 15:1-15

Jesus before Pilate
15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

2 'Are you the king of the Jews?' asked Pilate.

'You have said so,' Jesus replied.

3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, 'Aren't you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.'

5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

6 Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

9 'Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?' asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to get Pilate to release Barabbas instead.

12 'What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?' Pilate asked them.

13 'Crucify him!' they shouted.

14 'Why? What crime has he committed?' asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, 'Crucify him!'

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.


I believe this is one of the most tragic and unjust passages in the bible - it has to be, it is after all, the moment when the hero of the story is wrongly accused, unjustly tried, and ultimately, sentenced to death.

But it's not just the plot which resonates, it's the characterisations too: on the one hand, we see a helpless Jesus, who ultimately knows that there is nothing he can do, but accept his fate. Opposite him, is a spineless politician in Pilate, who bends to the will of a crowd, even though he does not really believe Jesus is guilty. Then the jeering crowd, who choose violence, over love, in saving Barabbus, condemning Jesus to the cross.

I wonder which character you identify most with today? Is it the leader, who is easily influenced by the noise of the crowd? Or a member of that crowd, who choose to reject love, in favour of hatred? Or is it Jesus, whose silence, whilst tragic, is calm in the face of the ultimate suffering? Who remains steadfast, accepting and conceding to the will of man but trusting his father in heaven that what is about to happen will ultimately save mankind. Silence can often be a very powerful thing.

Lord God, give me strength to make decisions I believe are righteous, true, and just, in an unfair and violent world. Help me to choose love over hatred. And above all, thank you for the cross, uphold my trust in you, that you know what is best for me. Amen.

No Comments