Priests, Pundits, and Pilate

Turning from the Truth

I want to examine Jesus’ accusers at the time of his crucifixion and what led to it. There was offense given and taken. There was accusation and those who knew what was true and turned from it. There was intention and perception. It is the responses in several people I want to consider.

You may look up the passages by clicking the following scripture links: Luke 22 Luke 23; Mark 14 & Mark 15; and John 18 & John 19 (The Message).

The priests and the pundits were the first to take offense to what Jesus was teaching. They were so caught up that their authority or what they were professing was being challenged, they sought a way to kill Jesus. They would rather stick to their way of doing things under the law than to walk in a new covenant which would have given them a far better life. Isn’t this how people are today? Many of us will just accept laws or what someone else teaches instead of seeking out the best answer for ourselves through the Holy Spirit. We could be walking in the fulness of God in all aspects of our life, but instead we accept ‘status quo.’ The Holy Spirit is the best counselor or guide for All areas of our lives. Why don’t we go to him before we make any decision, not just spiritual ones?

The priests and pundits were so intent on carrying on the way things had always been, they would not accept Jesus’ teaching or position in their lives. They perceived Jesus as a threat to their system. What changes are we unwilling to make because it isn’t how things have always been, what we are comfortable with, or accustomed to? They started to accuse Jesus of claiming to be the Messiah. They were so spiritually blind they decided he was blaspheming God. Their first accusation held some weight based on what they professed, IF he weren’t the Messiah. The accusation wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the people though, so they started adding exaggerations to justify themselves. They fed off the indignation of each other. The group of them felt emboldened because they had others to go along with them. How do we get more power when we find someone to agree with us, even when we’re wrong?

The priests and pundits couldn’t see the proof right before their eyes. These were people who were leaders in the church, teaching others how to live their lives according to the law, yet they couldn’t see the fulfillment of the very prophecies they taught. How often do we have the truth before us and ignore it? They were hesitant to kill Jesus because they knew the people would be angry, so they sought out people who would go along with their deluded plans. God used their human hearts to carry out his plan. They taught the law but didn’t follow their spiritual side. They used Judas to locate Jesus. They used Pilate to try to convict him and made accusations that Jesus was starting riots when he traveled around teaching and healing people. Pilate sent him to another jurisdiction so he wouldn’t have to deal with the reaction of the people. He was a very wise politician – wise in keeping the blame from himself. Was he innocent though? How do we pass the buck when a hard decision is before us, do we choose an easy way out?

Herod eventually passed the buck back to Pilate, but he was excited to meet Jesus. He had heard of the miracles which had been performed by Jesus and he wanted to be entertained. When Jesus didn’t cooperate, Herod was offended. Jesus would not entertain him, he wouldn’t even answer his questions. Herod starting hurling accusations at Jesus along with the priests and pundits. Herod didn’t even know firsthand but he was willing to go along with the crowd because his authority to make Jesus speak or perform fell short. Herod used his own misguided authority to have his underlings join him in mocking Jesus. They even dressed him in a royal robe and called him names. Herod’s perception was to go along with the crowd. His intention was to put Jesus in his place but he was afraid to convict him. Do we get excited to be entertained? How often do rulers fear the reaction of the crowd and make a decision based on popularity? How often do we? Herod ruled from hearsay, not a firsthand account. He was guilty of not investigating the charges. He was guilty of listening to gossip. He was guilty of seeking entertainment and not the truth. He was guilty of esteeming himself higher than God.

Jesus was once again before Pilate who had listened to the charges and found Jesus was not guilty. He dismissed the charges, saying he couldn’t verify anything Jesus was accused of doing. Pilate knew he had an innocent man before him. “That day Herod and Pilate became thick as thieves. Always before they had kept their distance.” Luke 23:12 Pilate had a choice to make, he could have released Jesus. He wanted to release Jesus but the crowd who obviously gossiped among themselves had decided to listen to the leaders of the day, the priests and pundits. They followed along blindly with them and asked to have Jesus murdered. Again, Pilate had a choice and decided not to make the decision but gave Jesus to the crowd to be killed. He was guilty of pride, he was guilty of not doing the right thing. Pilate washed his hands because of his guilt but it didn’t remove his irresponsibility or guilt. Pilate followed after corruption. How do we stand up when the choice is tough to do the right thing? Do we go against what we know is truth to appease the desires of others? Pilate’s intention was to free Jesus but he changed his mind due to pressure. Pilate went against his own knowledge to give in to the popular decision. Pilate’s perception was that he had to hand Jesus over to keep his own followers content. Pilate was guilty by association.

Prayer: Father help me to follow after truth, not what makes me comfortable. Help me to make decisions based on your will for my life and not go along with the intent of other’s. Help me to perceive what is noble and correct. Help me to respond to everyone I come in contact with with your Word and stand for what is accurate. Help me not to be offended when others accuse me falsely. I commit my way to you Father. Amen

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