BSF Study Questions John Lesson 25, Day 4: John 18:38-19:17

Summary of passage:  Pilate declares Jesus innocent and offers to release him as is the Jewish custom of Passover.  The Jews instead demand a rebel, Barabbas.  So Jesus was flogged and beaten and mocked.  Pilate again says Jesus is innocent.  The Jews again demand to crucify him and accuse him of disobeying their law.  Afraid of an uprising, Pilate questions Jesus again, probably looking for more reasons to set him free.  Jesus refuses to answer, saying all the power Pilate has over him is from God.

Still, Pilate tried to set Jesus free but the Jews kept insisting he die.  Finally, the Jews said Jesus is violating Roman law by claiming to be a king over Caesar.  So Pilate brings Jesus out and the people demand he die so Pilate reneges.  Jesus carries his cross to Golgotha.

Questions:

9)  Pilate ignores the truth in front of him.  Jesus explains how God is the one who has given him power over him.  Pilate chose instead to look out for himself.  He was afraid he’d lose his position.

10)  He ultimately condemns a man he knows to be innocent to death.  He’s afraid of a Jewish uprising.  He’s afraid he’ll lose his position.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Many.  Unquestioningly.

Conclusions:  Not the best questions.  We all know Pilate was a coward and caved to political pressure.  Obeying God is our job.

End Notes:  Knowing Jesus was innocent, Pilate offers to release him, calling Jesus the King of the Jews in hopes of appealing to them.  The crowd condemns Jesus as Matthew tells us at the prompting of the religious leaders (Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:11).  The name Barabbas sounds like son of the father.  The people chose the antichrist instead, a choice that is still being made every day when Jesus is rejected.

Barabbas was probably involved in the local resistance movement against the Romans and would have been viewed as a hero.  He was accused of at least three crimes: Theft (John 18:40), insurrection (Mark 15:7), and murder (Mark 15:7).

Pilate ordered Jesus to be scourged.  Most think Pilate was trying to help Jesus–that this act would satisfy the crowd.  Scourging like crucifixion was a Roman practice.  It involved a whip (picture HERE) with many leather strands, each having sharp pieces of bone or metal at the ends, pummeling the back, redoing it to raw flesh.  Many died from its use.

Scourging had three purposes. It was used to punish prisoners, and to gain confessions of crimes from prisoners. Also, in cases of crucifixion scourging was used to weaken the victim so he would die more quickly on the cross.

Jesus was humiliated and mocked.  The crown of thorns cut into his head and purple was reserved only for royalty.

As a judge Pilate had both reason and responsibility to set Jesus free with no punishment instead of the humiliation and brutality that He endured.  Pilate made five attempts to release Jesus (Luke 23:4, 15, 20, 22; John 19:4, 12, 13).

Whatever pity the crowd might have had was drowned out when the religious leaders shouted:  “Crucify!”  Pure hatred this was plain and simple.

The Jews finally admitted they wanted Jesus dead because he claimed to be God.  Pilate was afraid because he did see something in Jesus.  The Romans believed their gods came to earth in human guise all the time.  Pilate probably did believe Jesus was some sort of divine being.

Pilate questions Jesus more, hoping for something to set him free.  Unfortunately, he asks Jesus the same questions he already answers so Jesus says nothing more.

Pilate is angry Jesus won’t beg for his life or answer someone as important as him.  Pilate claims to have power but he’s at the mercy of the religious leaders and the crowd.  Jesus tells him God is in charge and there are others more guilty than you.  These are Jesus’ last words to Pilate.

Pilate panics.  His wife had told him she dreamed Jesus should be set free (Matthew 27:19-20); yet he caves to the crowd.  Pilate was a weak, unremarkable man who only had his position because he married the granddaughter of the emperor. He was scared his position would suffer if he set Jesus free.

The Lamb of God is ready for sacrifice on Passover.  Pilate is the one actually on trial.  He refuses to free an innocent man and condemns him to death.

Mark and John disagree on the time here.  It is possible it’s a copyist error or John may have been using Roman time, which means Jesus was before Pilate at 6 am and crucified at 9 am.

Again, it was Roman custom to carry the crosspiece to the place of execution.

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