1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
2 “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:1-5

According to the Jewish religious leaders and the Sanhedrin, phase one of Jesus’ trial had been successfully concluded. They had found a charge that stuck, confessed by Jesus’ own mouth – blasphemy – and that was punishable by execution, according to their law.

The next step was to find a charge that would also be punishable by death according to Roman law. Again, from Jesus’ own mouth had come the confirmation of the charge that Rome would never tolerate – treason. When He was hauled before Pilate, this was the question that He was asked, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

What did Pilate think of this whole debacle? As an objective observer, he would have seen a most unusual prisoner, facing a remarkably undignified set of “lawyers” plus an unruly mob of supporters all trying to get his attention to enforce their demands. This was not about justice. This was about manipulation, intimidation and domination. What chance did Pilate have against the threatening mob? The situation was tense. The soldiers were on high alert. The crowd was shouting, demonstrating, chanting, “Crucify Him; crucify Him!” The noise was disorientating. He tried to release Jesus by offering Barabbas in exchange. It was like trying to get Mother Teresa released by offering a serial rapist and killer in exchange. But the crowd would have none of it. So bent were they on killing Jesus, egged on by the religious judges that they had completely lost all reason.

The noise of their chanting rose to a crescendo. Pilate panicked. If he didn’t do something now, a riot would break out and there was no knowing where it would all end. Jerusalem was packed with Jews from all over Israel and farther afield – and they hated the Romans! If he didn’t give in to this mob, blood would flow and he would be answerable to Caesar. He had to sacrifice one innocent man for the sake of peace! What an amazing scene – prophecy fulfilled before his eyes, and he didn’t know it.

Luella Campbell

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