STORY SETTING AND BACKGROUND
Jesus Tried Before Pilate
After condemnation by the Council, Jesus is brought before Pilate, then to Herod, and finally condemned by Pilate to die on the cross.
Matthew 27: 1-30; Mark 15: 1-19; Luke 22:66-; John 18-28-19: 16
Pilate was a Roman of the
upper middle c1ass. In 26 A.D. the Emperor Tiberius appointed him to be the
fifth governor of the Roman
As governor, Pilate was in full control of the province. He had full powers over life and death. The Jewish Council was only permitted to execute any non-Jews who violated the sanctity of the temple. Even a Roman citizen could be executed for such a violation.
Pilate had control of the military in the province.
This probably consisted of 120 cavalry, and somewhere between 2500-5000
infantrymen. Some of these were stationed at
The governor had the right to appoint the Jewish high priests. Originally this had been a hereditary office with life tenure. Pilate issued the high priestly vestments to the high priests for each of the three annual major festivals. Pilate came up to Jerusalem to be in personal charge of the garrison and to maintain law and order when perhaps up to 125,000 pilgrims, charged with religious fervor, came to observe the festivals at the temple. As the experience of Paul indicates, mob violence could easily erupt.
The Roman governor of a province such as
Pilate's first action after
arriving as governor was to set up the Roman standards at
After 6 days of
determined but passive resistance by the Jews, Pilate was forced to remove
these standards to
The Jewish philosopher Philo wrote that Pilate set up
golden shields in his residence of
The early church historian Eusebius records that
Pilate used money from the temple treasury to build an aqueduct to bring
much-needed water to
Keeping these events in mind helps to make the final outcome of the trial of Jesus more understandable. Pilate could not afford to be accused at the imperial court of having failed to execute one who claimed to be "the king of the Jews." This was treason in the eyes of the Roman government, a crime worthy of gruesome execution such as crucifixion.
After condemning Jesus, the Council in a body led Jesus to the palace where Pilate was staying. The term “praetorium" refers to the residence of the governor, where he also carried out his governmental functions. King Herod had built a luxurious fortress-palace along the west wall of the city. This was a more comfortable place to stay than in the fortress of Antonia at the northwestern corner of the temple area.
It must have been about when the Council arrived with their prisoner.
For ceremonial reasons they refused to go into the judgment hall in the palace lest they become unclean and unqualified to observe the festival by entering into the palace of a non-Jew. Pilate came out to speak to them on a platform in front of the judgment hall as shown in the filmstrip.
Note the accusations against Jesus as detailed in Luke 23:2:
1. Jesus is corrupting the Jewish nation;
2. He keeps people from paying taxes;
3. He says He is Christ (Messiah), a King.
Each of these accusations had dangerous political overtones, which Pilate as the official Roman representative had to consider.
In his questioning, Pilate paid careful attention to only the third accusation. Anyone who set himself up as king was in opposition to the emperor. Read how carefully Jesus explained the heavenly nature of His kingdom. Jesus was a king, but not an earthly king in opposition to the Roman government.
Sending Jesus to Herod Antipas, the governor of the
Galleria d'Arte Moderna, Florence/Scala.
All of Pilate's protestations of Jesus' innocence did little good. Jesus' accusers were determined that He must die. Pilate's past record and the relations of the Jewish Council with the imperial court proved to be Pilate's undoing. The Council indirectly threatened Pilate when they said that if he released this man, he was not the emperor's friend since everyone who made himself a king rebelled against the emperor.
Pilate got the signal. The only way to solve the dilemna and come out personally unscathed was to condemn Jesus. This he did even though he rejected any responsibility for His death. To demonstrate this, he washed his hands in front of the crowd. They responded, "His blood be on us and on our children."