Mark 15:1-15                            Thursday, April 5, 2012
Key Verse: 15:2                       Kevin Jesmer NIU UBF

“’Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied.”

Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for this Easter season where we can meditate deeply on the Gospel. May the gospel form in our hearts and capture our hearts and our imagination. Thank you for all the wonderful things that you are doing among us. Please continue to mature us as your servants and help us to have a deep understanding of your love and your grace. Please help us to understand the meaning of Jesus’ trial through this passage. I thank you for all you have done, are doing and are going to do. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

1. Are you the king of the Jews? (1-5).

Verses 1-5 read, “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.”

The Sanhedrin already condemned Jesus to die. But they had no authority to execute him, so they brought him to Pilate (Jn 18:31). The Romans were occupying the region and they did not allow the Jewish authorities to execute anyone. If they could, the religious leaders would have ahd Jesus stoned to death. But God had his plans. Jesus had to be raised high on a pole in order to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament. And that would be accomplished through the Roman execution of crucifixion. Everything was unfolding according to God’s plan. We may think that our present situation may seem chaotic and confusing and filled with unique sufferings that make no sense to us, but God has a plan. Jesus trusted his Father’s love. He knew that the glory of the resurrection awaited him and so he had strength to carry on.

When Pilate questioned him, Jesus affirmed his kingship. Jesus, as the Christ, is God’s anointed and appointed King. Jesus was again silent before false accusers, like a sheep before her shearers (14:61; Isa 53:7). Jesus was not afraid to stand their declaring who he was. He was the King of the Jews and all people. He is the King of the whole universe. By saying what he said, Jesus was sealing his own fate. But he did not mind, because he was fully committed to following the Father’s will upon his life to live and die as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He did not shrink back or try to escape. He did it because of his love for us and his love for his Father. He did it so that people may be saved from their sins and enter into the Kingdom of God.

It is interesting to note that Pilate was amazed about Jesus’ response. He must have seen thousands of people, crying and groveling at his feet begging for mercy and offering to turn other people into the authorities, even their own family members. But Jesus was different. He is not like any other man. He was silent. He was strong and courageous. Jesus was not there to save himself. He was there to lay down his life for the life of the world.

2. Pilate hands Jesus over to be crucified (6-15).

Verses 6-15 read, “Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. 9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

Pilate knew that the religious leaders’ motives were not right regarding Jesus (10). He was even told by his wife that Jesus was innocent, for she had been warned in a dream. As a Roman, he was used to the rule of law. He knew that Jesus innocent. But he was under pressure. He was facing a rebellion by the local people. He might have to let the troops loose on the people. He might get reprimanded by Caesar for not being able to control the populace. He might have even lost his job. Pilate was not willing to stand up and say, “This Jesus is innocent. You are wrong about this and you must repent and ask God to forgive you.”

He never had enough guts to say this and so he tried to compromise by offering to release Jesus. Each year it was the custom for the Romans to release a prisoner be released. He chose the notorious Barabbas. Perhaps he thought that if he let them choose between Jesus and the murderer Barabbas, they would undoubtedly pick Jesus. But he was wrong. The crowd picked Barabbas. The crowd shouted, “Crucify him!” (13). Pilate asked, “Why? What crime has he committed?” (14). But their unreasonable demand prevailed. Pilate was between a rock and a hard place. He acquiesced and gave into the crowd. To please the crowd, Pilate had innocent Jesus flogged and sentenced to death.

Pilate spent the rest of his life with a guilty conscience. If he did not accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior he would have to face the judgment of God eventually and his name would go down in history as the one who handed Jesus over to be crucified. What a price to pay! We must always stand on the side of God and the truth, even if it means possible loss to us. We will be pleasing to God and be rewarded by God in the end.

It is amazing that they asked Barabbas, a murdering patriot, be released. Barabbas must have been amazed. He was going to be condemned to die. But now he was set free. He was set free because Jesus was condemned in his place. This turn of events in his life was no mistake. It reflects clearly what Jesus accomplished for us through his suffering and his death on the cross. The sinless One became sin for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God (2 Co 5:20; 1 Pe 3:18). The Gospel sets us free from being prisoners to sin and the devil. The Gospel takes away condemnation and gives a new lease on life. We are set free to live a life of truth and love, following our Savior Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, though you were sinless, you took my guilt and condemnation upon yourself to bring me to God and make me righteous. You are my Savior King. Thank you for your wonderful grace in my life.

One Word: Jesus was condemned in my place to save me

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