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Who Was Pontius Pilate?

It’s safe to say that if the Bible had not mentioned Pontius Pilate, he would have disappeared into the pages of history with few every knowing his name.

Of course, Pontius Pilate is the Roman ruler of Judea who condemned Jesus to death, despite washing his hands of the sin. His name appears only three times in the Bible (LUke 3:1, Acts 4:27, 1 Timothy 6:13). He ruled Judea from A.D. 26 to 36. Little is known of his early life, so we pick him up when the Roman Emperor Tiberius gives him the unpleasant job of governing the troublesome Jews.

Pilate as known for being a tyrant. He never quite understood the Jews and did things to offend their religion. Thus, the reason he gave into the Jews for the crucifixion of Christ was because he was afraid of a mob and word would get back to Rome about his inability to rule there. He was in Jerusalem in order to keep the peace. His normal headquarters was in Caesarea.

He condemns Christ, and then he disappears in history from there. It is believed he was sent to Rome after he failed to put down a Samarian rebellion that resulted in innocent bloodshed. Tiberius died before Pilate could arrive, and it is said he commited suicide shortly thereafter.

There are many infamous names in history, and Pilate’s is perhaps at the top of the list.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 5: Matthew 27:11-31

SUMMARY OF MATTHEW 27:11-31

Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews. Jesus said yes. The governor listed the testimony against him, but Jesus gave no reply. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and only handed over to him out of envy. At the Feast, it was tradition for the crowd to free one prisoner. They could free Jesus or Barabbas. Pilate’s wife had sent him a message saying not to have anything to do with Jesus because she had suffered greatly in a dream.

The chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas. Pilate asked the crowd what to do with Jesus. They responded to crucify him. Pilate asked why, but no one listened. Pilate washed his hands to show he was innocent of Jesus’s blood and said it was their responsibility. The crowd agreed and said it was on their children, too. Barabbas was released, and Jesus was flogged.

The soldiers stripped Jesus and put a scarlet robe on him. They put a crown of thorns on his head. Next, the soldiers put a staff in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him. They spit on him and then hit him repeatedly. They took the robe off, put his own clothes back on him, and led him away to be crucified.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 5: Matthew 27:11-31

13a) Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews. Jesus said yes. The governor asked if Jesus had heard the testimony against him, but Jesus gave no reply.

b) Pilate’s wife had sent him a message saying not to have anything to do with Jesus because she had suffered greatly in a dream. The chief priests and elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas. Pilate asked the crowd what to do with Jesus. They responded to crucify him. Pilate asked why, but no one listened. Pilate washed his hands to show he was innocent of Jesus’s blood and said it was their responsibility.

c) He tried to get Jesus to defend himself. He tried to have him released out of mercy. He even asked the crowd why crucify him, and he symbolicaly washed his hands of Jesus’s blood. It shows that Pilate might have understood who Jesus was, that he had mercy, that he was sympathetic to Jesus. He also knew Jesus was innocent and didn’t want to execute him.

14) Pilate did fight for Jesus, but in the end he bowed to political pressure. We must fight to the end for Jesus.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 5: Matthew 27:11-31

Powerful and sad lesson. Shows what Jesus suffered for us and how he was treated. Deepens our gratitude for Jesus and the cross.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 5: Matthew 27:11-31

The Jews have to go through Roman law in order to execute someone. They have no authority to do it themselves. They cook up the charge of Jesus calling himself King, which is against Roman law.

Pilate does not believe the charges, and his wife’s premonitions confirm them. He appeals to Herod who only returns Jesus to Pilate. This is the recording of the second time Jesus appears before Pilate (Luke records the first  Luke 23:1-6. ). He declares Jesus innocent, but the crowd won’t relent. Since the crowd is on the verge of becoming a mob, he washes his hands of sin, but he knows he is still responsible. Jesus’s crime of “King of the Jews” is posted above the cross as a result.

The reply Jesus gives to Pilate when asked if he is king is the same reply he gave the high priests (Matthew 26:64). Pilate could not believe Jesus would not defend himself. He kept silent and let God defend him.

Pilate knew there was something special about Jesus and did not want to kill him. So he hopes the crowd will let him go free. Barabbas was a murderer  Mark 15:7

Pilate could have released Jesus on his own, but he did not. He even ignored his wife’s dream. All of this was God’s mercy, which he refused. He gave in to the multitudes. All of them sinned. People today still reject Jesus.

Pilate washing his hands was meaningless. Jesus’s blood rested on him, too, since he could have stopped it.

The blood of Jesus would be on the children 40 years later when the temple was destroyed.

The Scourging of Jesus

Scourging was the treatment prisoners got before crucifixion. They were beaten with a whip that had leatehr strands with sharp bone or metal bits on it. Every time it hit the body, it made a cut. In fact, many prisoners died from scourging before they were crucified. Only women and Roman senators or soldiers were exempt.

The point of scouring you could say was merciful. It was to shorten the length of time that a prisoner hung on the cross before they died. Scourging resulted in blood loss and shock to the point of death. Crucifixion was just the final straw.

The whole garrison gathered to mock Jesus; normally only 4 soldiers (called a quaternion) did the scourging. They meant to humiliate and mock him. A scarlet robe was what a king would wear. The crown of thones would indeed hurt Jesus. The scepter was a reed, not an ornamental beauty item.

How did Matthew know about this scene? He was probably told it by one of the Roman soldiers who was present.

The procession to the cross and the execution area was a time for Rome to show what would happen to those who broke the law. A centurion on horseback would lead the way, shouting the crime of the condemned as they went. Jesus would carry the crossbar of his cross, which was probably between 75 and 125 lbs in weight. He was stripped naked, and his hands were tied to the wood. The upright beams of the cross were already in place.

No one stood up for Jesus. In the end, he was abandoned, but he never abandoned us.

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Jesus Died By Crowd Mentality

I’m reading in Luke the account of Jesus’s trial and death.  No one wanted to be responsible for killing Jesus it seems–none of the leaders anyways.  But due to the crowd screaming for Jesus’s death, Pilate gave in.

Jesus therefore died due to the power of crowd mentality.  These same people who were praising Jesus when he entered Jerusalem almost in the same breath were now calling for his death.  Why?

Because people went along with the crowd.  And people behave differently when in a crowd.  We have probably all experienced some form of this in our own lives.

Otherwise known as Mob Mentality, Crowd Hysteria, or Herd Behavior, man’s imbedded desire to be liked arises and makes him do things he otherwise would not.

I’m wondering if Pilate himself was afraid of this mob.  We’re not for sure how large the crowd was around Jesus but I’m imagining it must have been considerable in order for Pilate (arguably one of the most powerful men in the Roman Empire at that time) to give in.  Crowds can in one instant change the focus of their anger.

I find this fascinating.  Jesus who had come to save man was ultimately done in by man’s character flaws (of which God had created).  He died by the hands of the people He had come to save.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the whole concept of God having planned everything, including the Fall and Jesus.  It seems like man is the cause of a lot of heartache in this world.  Yet God created us, who we are deep inside, which leads to this heartache.

Why would God create such a flawed creation (when He is perfect) and put up with us?  Why not either: 1) not create us at all or 2) create us differently to avoid all this?

Maybe God has hope one day we will overcome our innate iniquities and tendencies.

The reasoning is beyond me.  Another twist on yesterday’s question about the Fall.

Note to self:  ASK GOD when get to heaven.