STORY OF JESUS 20
After Christ had been condemned by the judges of the Sanhedrin, He was
taken at once to Pilate, the Roman governor, to have the sentence confirmed and
The Jewish priests and rulers could not themselves enter the judgment
hall of Pilate. By the ceremonial laws of their nation, they would become
defiled by so doing, and thus be debarred from taking part in the feast of the
In their blindness they did not see that Christ was the real Passover
lamb, and that since they had rejected Him, this great feast had for them lost
As Pilate beheld Jesus, he saw a man of noble countenance and dignified
bearing. No trace of crime was to be seen in His face. Pilate turned to the
priests and asked:
"What accusation bring ye against this man?" John 18:29.
His accusers did not wish to state particulars, and so were not prepared
for this question. They knew that they could bring no truthful evidence on which
the Roman governor would condemn Him. So the priests called the false witnesses
to their aid. "And they began to accuse Him, saying,
"We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give
tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King." Luke 23:2.
This was false, for Christ had plainly sanctioned the payment of tribute
to Caesar. When the lawyers had tried to entrap Him in regard to this very
matter, He had said:
"Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's."
Pilate was not deceived by the testimony of the false witnesses. He
turned to the Saviour, and asked:
"Art Thou the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered, "Thou sayest." Matthew 27:11.
When they heard this answer, Caiaphas and those who were with him called
Pilate to witness that Jesus had admitted the crime of which they accused Him.
With noisy cries they demanded that He be sentenced to death.
As Christ made no answer to His accusers, Pilate said to Him: "Answerest
Thou nothing? Behold how many things they witness against Thee.
"But Jesus yet answered nothing." Mark 15:4, 5.
Pilate was perplexed. He saw no evidence of crime in Jesus, and he had no
confidence in those who were accusing Him. The noble appearance and quiet manner
of the Saviour were in direct contrast to the excitement and fury of His
accusers. Pilate was impressed with this, and was well satisfied of His
Hoping to gain the truth from Him, he took Jesus by Himself, and
questioned Him: "Art Thou the King of the Jews?"
Christ did not give a direct answer to this question, but asked: "Sayest
thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of Me?"
The Spirit of God was striving with Pilate. The question of Jesus was
intended to lead him to examine his own heart more closely. Pilate understood
the meaning of the question. His own heart was opened before him, and he saw
that his soul was stirred by conviction. But pride arose in his heart, and he
"Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered
Thee unto me: what hast Thou done?"
Pilate's golden opportunity had passed. But Jesus desired Pilate to
understand that He had not come to be an earthly king, therefore He said:
"My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world,
then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but
now is My kingdom not from hence."
Pilate then asked, "Art Thou a king then?"
Jesus answered, "Thou sayest that I am
a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I
should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth My
Pilate had a desire to know the truth. His mind was confused. He eagerly
grasped the words of the Saviour, and his heart was stirred with a great longing
to know what the truth really was, and how he could obtain it. He asked Jesus:
"What is truth?"
But he did not wait to receive an answer. The tumult of the crowd outside
the hall of justice had increased to a roar. The priests were clamorous for
immediate action, and Pilate was recalled to the interests of the hour. Going
out to the people, he declared: "I find in Him no fault at all." John
These words from a heathen judge were a scathing rebuke to the base
perfidy and falsehood of the rulers of Israel who were accusing the Saviour.
As the priests and elders heard this from Pilate, their disappointment
and rage knew no bounds. They had long plotted and waited for this opportunity.
As they saw the prospect of the release of Jesus, they seemed ready to tear Him
They lost all reason and self-control, and gave vent to curses, behaving
more like demons than like men. They loudly denounced Pilate, and threatened him
with the censure of the Roman government. They accused Pilate of refusing to
condemn Jesus, who, they affirmed, had set Himself up against Caesar. Then they
raised the cry:
"He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning
from Galilee to this place." Luke 23:5.
Pilate at this time had no thought of condemning Jesus. He was sure of
His innocence. But when he heard that Christ was from Galilee, he decided to
send Him to Herod, the ruler of that province, who was then in Jerusalem. By
this course Pilate thought to shift the responsibility of the trial from himself
Jesus was faint from hunger, and weary from loss of sleep. He was also
suffering from the cruel treatment He had received. But Pilate delivered Him
again to the soldiers, and He was dragged away, amid the jeers and insults of
the merciless mob.