Where was I when Jesus was Sentenced to Death?
Translated by Allan Liang
The Jewish Sanhedrin when carrying out the judicial trial, had no authority over the life and death of Jesus (Mark 14:55), hence the Jews say that they have no power to kill. Jesus was accused of the crime of “calling himself the king of the Jews”, a crime punishable by death, so he was handed over to Pilate to be taken care of (Mark 15:2, Leviticus 24:16). If convicted, he would have to be crucified, according to Roman laws concerning punishment. This fulfilled what Jesus himself said concerning that he must be “lifted up” (John 3:14, 8:28, 12:32). Pilate was a governor appointed in AD 26 by the Roman government to be in charge of the region of Judea. The authority of the governor was great, and commanded over the people the power to spare and kill. But because it was undesirable to interfere in Jewish religious divisions, the Jews could not accuse Jesus of religious crimes (Matthew 26:59-66), but falsely accused him of political crimes. If Jesus proclaimed himself to be a king, it would indicate that he was in opposition to the Roman authorities. Jesus proclaimed himself to be “a king”, but revealed that his kingdom did not belong to this world (John 18:33-38). Pilate was indecisive during his trial of Jesus, but to prevent a conflict with the Jewish officials and people, and to satisfy them as well as solidify his own political rule, he was willing to sacrifice Jesus (John 19:1-6). The Romans used scourges that had hard bones and metal pieces when flogging people, those who were flogged had their skin and flesh ripped open. Crucifixion was used by the Romans to execute the worst of criminals; it was excruciatingly painful and shameful. Roman citizens did not receive this punishment. The authority of those in power on the earth is given by God (Romans 13:1-5). It was entirely part of the redemption plan of the triune God for the Lord Jesus to be nailed on the cross, bear the sins of the people of this world and satisfy the righteous requirements of God the Father. Here, the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man is manifestly evident. Pilate said, “Do you refuse to speak to me?...Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered,” You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin” (John 19:10-11). Pilate did not recognize that Jesus was God, was the Messiah, was the Christ and the only Son of God, he did not know that Jesus who stood before him, was the source of all authority on earth. The one who handed Jesus over is guilty of a greater sin, that includes the Jewish people, officials, the high priest Caiaphas, Judas, and also includes you and me...... Those who shouted “crucify him, crucify him!”, and kept the true murderer, Barabbas (Luke 23:18-25, John 18:40), were in reality, the same group of people who welcomed the Lord Jesus as he rode on a colt into Jerusalem, five days ago on the Sunday of Passion Week, fulfilling the old prophecy (Zechariah 9:9). They gladly received Jesus and shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” (Psalm 118:25-26). Dear brothers and sisters, how should we reflect upon this? May the Lord help us contemplate this: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25). Are we among the crowd that sentenced Jesus to death and sent him to be crucified on the cross? Is there a shadow of Pilate in us? We are all children of God redeemed by the precious blood of the Lord Jesus, but very often, we easily sin, falling into strife, rivalry, jealousy and dissension, nailing Jesus to the cross again and being indifferent, grieving the Holy Spirit. We allow ourselves to do things by the flesh, speak inconsiderately (James 1:19), sin against God and hurt other people, harm the Lord’s church and refuse to repent. Even saying, “I’m sorry”, to our family members is exceedingly difficult. May the Lord have mercy on us. Please carefully read the Scriptures, Mark 15:6-15, and meditate, reflect and pray: Meditate on the scene of the Lord Jesus’ death sentence, may the Lord Jesus’ blood and sacrificial love which flowed on the cross inspire us, may the Holy Spirit help us be willing to unceasingly confess our sins and repent, so that each day we may experience the new mercies of the Lord. Let us think about this: when Jesus was sentenced to death, where was I?