Class Notes: 5/17/2015
Mark 15:1-5; After condemning Him, the Jewish leaders haul Jesus to Pilate to be put to death but Pilate has his own trial
In our study of Mark we are in Mark 15:1; where the Jewish political party bosses after condemning Jesus with a series of illegal trials handcuff Him and haul him off to Pilate the Roman procurator for another series of trials that ultimately result in His crucifixion.
Though the Sanhedrin could pronounce a death sentence it could not implement judgment so a condemned prisoner had to be turned over to the Roman authorities for a death sentence to be carried out.
The Roman governor could either ratify or rescind the Sanhedrin's death sentence If rescinded, a new trial had to be conducted before a Roman court in which the Sanhedrin had to prove that the defendant had committed a capital crime under Roman law.
The charge of blasphemy (Mark 14:64;) was not punishable by Roman law so it was not mentioned in the Roman trial. In its place the Sanhedrin substituted a charge of treason, turning Jesus' statement that He was the Messiah into a traitorous political claim that He was "the King of the Jews" The Roman court could not ignore that charge.
We have seen that the Jewish leadership had predetermined to kill Him so their court was nothing but and evil kangaroo court where they attempted to justify their predetermined sentence.
This is characteristic of a fallen client nation. Jer 9:1-6; Hosea 4:1-7; Today we see our nation is rapidly becoming just like the Jews were and some of our cities are already like them because some of our political leaders are handing down sentence before any investigation or trial is held.
Pilate, who would be the judge of the Roman court, had every chance to be a great man. He was a Roman aristocrat who was presented with every opportunity to be great but he failed miserably because rather than lead based on principles of truth and justice he was controlled by the politics of the mob just like too many of our politicians are.
He was fairly young when he was appointed procurator of the Roman province of Judea. The word "governor" that is used to describe his office does not adequately describe his responsibilities in the Roman Empire.
He was not just a governor; he was much more than a governor. The Latin word is procurator, and the procurator had the right of life and death. He was the Roman Empire in a third-class province, and Judea was a third-class province, the smallest class of Roman provinces.
Pontius Pilate started out very well. Tiberius appointed him in 26 AD, about four years before these events occurred, and he was a typical Roman aristocrat. He walked into Palestine, took one look at it and said: "I'm going to fundamentally transform it with hope and change" and immediately he did something that nearly started a revolution.
On the Mediterranean coast about 40 miles away there was a beautiful and famous port called Caesarea that Herod the Great had constructed and named after Caesar.
This was where the Roman procurator and his legions had traditionally been stationed but Pilate decided to move his headquarters to from Caesarea to Jerusalem.
Caesarea was a Hellenised secular city that was accustomed to having Romans around and it didn't bother anyone but Jerusalem was the Jewish capital and the center of the Jewish religion with its legalism and ritual.
When Pilate marched the Roman legions into Jerusalem it immediately raised a big fuss, not only because the soldiers were there but also because the soldiers had the pictures of various Roman gods on their shields.
They would hang these shields up on the walls, and they also had their Roman eagles and the standard bearer of the Roman army or every Roman organization wore a wolf's head. And even Pontius Pilate being an aristocrat had a gold shield.
He didn't have a coat of arms as we know it but all aristocrats had a gold shield on which they had their ancestors and the name of their patron god.
So they had the name of a Roman deity and the names of all of their ancestors and sometimes a picture or two all of which terribly offended the legalistic religious Jews.
The Romans shields and standards were blasphemous to the Jews and they immediately got upset about it and wrote to Tiberius Caesar. As they protested Pilate had some of his soldiers put on civilian clothes and told them to go out and kill a few Jews because of their insolence.
The whole thing finally boiled over into a small revolt that Pilate rapidly quelled with excessive force. Tiberius wrote him a rather nasty letter and told him to shape up a little and use his head, and not to upset the Jews.
Pilate complied by moving his army headquarters back to Caesarea but from that point on he had it in for the Jews so to rub salt into the wound he came up with the idea to rip off some money from the Jewish temple and use it to build an aqueduct.
This nearly started another revolt and Tiberius had to write him a second letter of reprimand for upsetting the Jews.
Other than his antagonism toward the Jews Pilate was a good administrator. His aqueduct brought water into the city of Jerusalem from a spring 45 miles away and later it became one of the main source of the water supply to Jerusalem.
The temple money that he took and used for it turned out to be one of the best investments that could have been made for the residents of the city. Pilate turned out to be a very smart man but he never got over his prejudice against the Jews. The Jews also despised him so the feeling was mutual.
Jew kept complaining to Tiberius about Pilate but other than an occasional slap on the hand Tiberius kept him in the job but his mishandling of the case of the Lord Jesus Christ clearly demonstrated his lack of integrity.
Given all of the antipathy between Pilate and the Jewish political leaders, the political cost to the chief priests and the scribes and the Pharisees that was expended to haul Jesus Christ over to Pontius Pilate to be killed was huge.
What we have here is one of the greatest cases in history of a group of people swallowing their pride in order to get rid of someone they despise. They despised Pilate but they despised the Lord Jesus Christ even more.
One of the things we need to understand from this scene is that we should almost feel the intense hatred of the Jewish religious leaders for Jesus, their hatred is so great that they are willing to swallow their pride and crawl over to Pontius Pilate who has insulted them individually and as a race so they could get Jesus killed.
They hated Jesus with all of the strength of religion. Their hatred was so great that they would not stop until Jesus was dead or they were.
Our nation needs to learn something of the intensity and implacability of religious hatred in the battle we face against Islam. Islam will not stop until the USA and Israel are totally annihilated or they are.
Of course we know from prophecy that Israel will survive, Islam will be annihilated, but the USA may not survive.
Since it has the feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, Pilate had temporarily moved his headquarters to Jerusalem in order to more quickly deal with any problems that might arise during the festival. This made it easy for the Jews to take Jesus to him.
Mark 15:2; Pilate had sole responsibility for the Roman court's decisions. The courts proceedings, usually held in public, opened with an indictment by the plaintiff followed by the magistrate's interrogation and further testimony from the defendant and other witnesses.
When all the evidence was in, the magistrate usually consulted with his legal advisers and then pronounced the sentence, that was carried out immediately.
Instead of confirming the Sanhedrin's death sentence, Pilate insisted on hearing the case. Only one of the three accusations that the Sanhedrin had made against Jesus merited Pilate's attention and that was Jesus' alleged claim that He was "a king" because that claim threatened Caesar.
So Pilate asked Jesus, " Are you the King of the Jews?" "And Jesus replied unto him, "it is as you say,"" This was an idiom for affirmative, the answer is correct.
Jesus is the King of the Jews: because He is God, and as God He is the root of Israel. Jesus Christ, as God, is the founder of the Jewish race, and secondly, through His physical birth Jesus Christ was born directly in the line of David so He is the son of David.
So in both cases Jesus Christ is the King of the Jews and no one has a greater right to the throne than He does so it was impossible for Him to answer otherwise.
His cryptic reply "it is as you say" however is rather ambiguous so it did not provide Pilate any basis for a capital conviction under Roman law so he had to go back to the Jewish leaders who were accusing Jesus for more.
Mark 15:3; NET The word translated "harshly" in the NASB really means repeatedly or additionally (note 1). The KJV translates it as "of many things"
The chief priests took the opportunity Pilate gave them to try to strengthen their case by trying to press additional charges against Jesus.
Mark 15:4-5; Pilate tried to get Jesus to respond to His accusers and defend Himself against their charges but to his utter amazement Jesus remained absolutely silent (Isa. 53:7;)
"He answered nothing"; "opokrine ouden"; an emphatic negative). This kind of silence was rare in a Roman court and it confirmed Pilate's initial feeling that Jesus was not guilty.
Jesus Christ would not respond to their accusations or say anything because for three years He had presented the evidence of His Messiahship and these religious leaders had completely and totally rejected the evidence even though God held them responsible to recognize it.
He does not dignify their accusations with an answer, they have more information than they need because for three years they have seen Jesus fulfill prophesy as His accreditation as Messiah,
From the time that He turned on His heel in an about face and walked out on them at the end of the temple discourse that was it. Jesus Christ will have nothing to do with them or their locked in negative volition that was reinforced by their religion.
He will not speak to them. They are in His presence but you can be in someone's presence and be separated from them, He completely ignores them.
Pilate however has an open mind. He is a Roman and under Roman law he has been thoroughly trained in observation and in interrogation. Therefore his interrogation is objective and legitimate and Jesus Christ recognizes that by answering in the affirmative.
Jesus does not respond to negative volition because religion does not deserve an answer because religion has constantly had answers and it has already made up its mind so Jesus has now mentally separated Himself from them.
But the potential positive volition and objectivity of the unprejudiced judge, Pontius Pilate, deserves and receives an answer.
A principle we get from this is that some people deserve an answer and others don't. It requires wisdom from God's Word to discern the proper course of action so pearls of truth aren't cast before swine. Matt 7:6;
We also see here that: separation is not only physical it is also mental. In this particular case we have mental separation. Jesus Christ will not speak to the religious leaders or recognize them in any manner. To Him they are invisible.
The fact that Jesus refused to acknowledge their accusations amazed Pilate. He recognizes that Jesus is innocent but He was weak. He didn't have the strength of character to stand for what was right regardless of the cost. He was a politician.
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