19 THE ROMAN TRIAL OF JESUS- The Jewish Court had no power to sentence a person to death under Roman Rule. Jesus, at daybreak was taken under armed guard to the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilot, who was the representative and executor of Roman Law and served as the Roman procurator of Judea during the years A.D. 26-36. Procurators were invested with the same powers of higher officials. Pilate was a military superintendent managing a province known as an area of rebellion. He functioned as prosecuting attorney, judge, and jury. Pilate held the supreme, administrative life-or-death power over the subjects in this province.
Jesus’ accusers refused to enter the Roman Palace, a non-Jewish area, for fear they should become ceremonially defiled for The Passover Celebration that evening. Anxious to avoid external defilement in order to observe the festival and eat the Passover Lamb, which, as well as reminding them of their deliverance from Egypt, pointed to Jesus, The True Passover lamb; this showed the irony of the situation. The suffering sacrifice Jesus was about to face, brought the reality of a truly secure deliverance into the Kingdom of God, but this they had rejected.
The Jews asked Pilate to accept their verdict against Jesus without investigation. The Roman Administrator refused this, but he offered to let them carry out the maximum punishment under their law, beating with rods or imprisonment but they insisted that they wanted Jesus’ death. The Romans would never execute someone simply on religious grounds and the Jews knew that Pilate would laugh at their charge of blasphemy but the Roman Authoritian would concern himself with the charge that Jesus had claimed to be a king. This charge would be like treason. The Romans knew no greater crime than incitement to rebellion.
The Roman trial of Jesus took place early in the day, but precisely at the time when ancient Roman officials were the busiest, ordinarily arising early to work even before breakfast. Jesus admitted to being a King, but refused to defend Himself. Pilate interrogated Jesus long enough to be convinced that He was no political rival to Caesar.
The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate was convinced of Jesus' innocence and sent Him to the resident Galilean King Herod. Herod wanted Jesus to entertain him with a miracle. Jesus did not even speak a word to Herod. The King and his soldiers mocked and ridiculed Jesus, but finally sent Him back to Pilate.
Back at the Roman armoury the soldiers put a purple robe on Jesus, made a crown of long thorns and put it on His head, placed a stick in His right hand as a sceptre and knelt before Him in mockery, “a so-called king“. They spat on Him and beat Him, and the hairs of His beard were pulled out. Despite His innocence, he was subjected to horrific suffering. Because of His torture He was unrecognisable as a man, He was so disfigured. The bad treatment and abuse He received was to show insult and disgrace for a criminal, but this was a mocking of a true royal personage. He was the ultimate Prophet and Servant who spoke for God. His punishment was unjust.
Even though the Roman head announced that he still found Jesus innocent of charges of treason and returned to the Jews to announce that he found Jesus no threat to Rome and hence not deserving of death, he began to yield to the pressure of the Chief Priests and their supporters, to gain popularity for himself.
Whenever Pilate seemed to waver about the decision concerning crucifixion, the Jews threatened to report his conduct to Caesar. Because Jesus remained silent and made no defence, under the Roman system, Pilate had no other option but to convict.
Prior to the order given of crucifixion, the Roman soldiers had taken Jesus again into the armoury and gathered all the soldiers. They stripped Him and continued to whip His bare back with a leaded whip. The whip had pieces of iron, glass or bone tied to the ends of the thongs and was a common instrument to use on prisoners.
Pilate was hoping that would satisfy the Jewish Officials, but to no avail.
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