Luke 23:1-25 Swayed by the Crowd

Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then,arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.”

18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked,but he delivered Jesus over to their will.

Swayed by the Crowd

Pilate tried many political tricks to release a man who he thought was innocent.  Some people thought that Pilate’s account was added or manipulated to make the account of Jesus’ death more palatable to Rome.  The Bible was originally published in lands which Rome ruled, so wasn’t it convenient that the Jewish people were responsible for his death.  This was especially convenient in developing hatred for the Jews which the Romans had just conquered.  It would also pave the way for making Christianity the state religion of Rome.  However, the people attributed as authors to these accounts are Jewish and so they differentiate between the Jewish leaders who are jealous and the Jewish people who in many ways support Jesus.  The Roman authorities are shown as weak and indecisive in this passage which is hardly a stance that Romans would have embraced.  Also sins of omission and sins of commission are equal before God.  If one does not lift a hand to save an innocent man and another kills an innocent man, they both participate in his death.  Roman authorities and Jewish authorities are both responsible for Jesus’ death.  Herod is a ruler in Israel, but he is not a Jew.  He was a foreigner placed in power by Rome.  Really, Rome is responsible in this passage for standing by and not lifting a finger to save Jesus.  This is shown in both the figures of Pilate and Herod.  Rival political factions unite to do the Devil’s work.  However, deeper than any of the visible players could have known was a plan to rescue all God’s people.

There are many people, like the Jesus Seminar, who put Jesus on trial today and insist that he plays by their rules.  Reza Aslan, in his recent book Zealot, appeals to years of skeptical scholarship to explain his transformation from a born-again Christian to one who sees Jesus as a remarkable man but not in the way the Bible defines him.  There are many like Reza Aslan who put Jesus on trial and change their opinions of him like Herod did.  Because he doesn’t fit their preconceived idea of how the Messiah (Christ) should be, they claim the Christ figure was constructed around the person of Jesus following his death.

Prayer

It is one thing to condemn you ourselves, Jesus, it is another when we just ignore you.  We can not make demands of you or set ourselves up as an authority at your trial.  We can not hide our heads in the sand or pretend that your death and resurrection does not concern us.  In our present climate of social, moral decline there is increasing pressure to redefine what following you looks like.  Let us not to hand you over to the crowd, but let us follow you in the way of the cross.

Questions

  1. What three trials are listed above?
  2. How does Jesus respond?
  3. What ties them together?
  4. How is Jesus presented in our culture?
  5. Why do you believe it was necessary for Jesus to go through these literal trials?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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