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"Then they all took Jesus to Pilate and began to bring up charges against Him. ‘We found this man undermining our law and order, forbidding taxes to be paid to Caesar, setting Himself up as Messiah-king.'
"Pilate asked Him, 'Is this true that you're 'King of the Jews'?'
"'These are your words, not mine,' Jesus replied.
"Pilate told the high priests and accompanying crowd, 'I find nothing wrong here. He seems harmless enough to me.'" Luke 23:1-4 (The Message).
Pilate had no idea, when he opened his eyes that morning, that for him it was judgment day. A routine day, a few more Jewish prisoners to sentence; he'd done it all before. It was an unpleasant part of his role as governor and he did it with indifference. Judah had always been a troublesome province and he was quite glad to sentence a few more rabble-rousers to death.
But this man seemed different. He didn't have the same insolent attitude. His face wore an expression of serenity, an eerie calm that disturbed him. There was none of the bravado that aroused his rage and gave him a feeling of sadistic pleasure to see condemned prisoners walking towards the execution site, backs bent under the heavy load of the crossbeam.
The mob that crowded the courtyard was in ferment. Led by the high priests, they were yelling out the charge, 'Treason! He calls Himself 'King of the Jews'! He's inciting rebellion!'
Pilate looked at Jesus. Flanked by two soldiers, hands tied so tightly behind his back that dried blood stained His wrists and hands, He stood unmoved, looking steadily into his eyes, almost challenging him to consider his own verdict. 'Pilate, you decide whether I am guilty or not guilty.'
Just as the Jewish leaders were put on trial that day, so was Pilate. He was a man to be most pitied. He had an unpleasant job to do in Jerusalem. It was Passover and the city was filled with volatile Jews from all over Israel. Although the Jewish leaders had not planned it this way to avoid a riot, Jesus had inadvertently fallen into their hands at this inopportune time through the conniving of Judas.
But it was the Father's time. Jesus had to fulfil the role of Passover lamb, to be sacrificed for the sin of the world at the precise moment when the high priest spilt the blood of the first lamb in Jerusalem.
Pilate still had to face his own responsibility in this drama. He had the final say regarding Jesus' guilt or innocence. He alone decided whether He lived or died. His honest verdict, even after a perfunctory examination of the prisoner was, 'Not guilty.' It was glaringly obvious that the charges against Jesus were trumped up.
In true "Jesus" fashion, He turned the question back on Pilate. 'It's not my responsibility to tell you. It's your responsibility to make your own decision. On that rests your own fate.' Pilate's verdict was 'not guilty’, but that was not the end of the story. The deciding factor would be what he would do about it.
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