Discover Scripture and Life
Jesus Before Pilate
11Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
15Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over.
19While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.”
22Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” 23Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
24So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25Then the people as a whole answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26So he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
1. Who is seeking vengeance? Who is seeking punishment? Is it God or is it humanity?
2. Why did Jewish leaders bring Jesus to Pilate? What’s the goal?
3. What’s Pilate’s over-riding concern?
4. Why did Jesus say nothing? Why does Jesus allow everyone else to talk? What is revealed?
5. What do you make of Pilate’s wife’s concern?
Jesus before the Soldiers
27Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head. They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
32As they went out, they came upon a man from Cyrene named Simon; they compelled this man to carry his cross. 33And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; 36then they sat down there and kept watch over him. 37Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
6. The soldiers mock Jesus. Jesus as “King of the Jews” is a farce. Scholars argue that the terms “Messiah, Anointed, King” came about by accident of history, the trial and Pilate’s plaque that Jesus is a fake “King of the Jews.” And yet the mocking came to be seen as the truth of Jesus.
From one perspective what seems an historical accidence of Pilate, from another perspective is now the truth. Philippians 2 puts this reversal of standing for Jesus this way:
5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name.
7. How does this passage from Philippians challenge our common ideas of success? How did Jesus become successful according to this?
Jesus before the crowd
38Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, 42“He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, ‘I am God’s Son.’ ” 44The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.
45From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 46And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. 49But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last.
The crucifixion on the hill provides an extension of the trial where witnesses and bargains continue to be offered.
8. Have you ever sat with someone who was dying? What was that like?
9. Jesus is offered terms for success—come down from the cross. If he had, what would have gained? What would have been lost?
10. Jesus quotes psalm 22 and he seems to be overwhelmed by the experience, losing hope. When you hear these words from Jesus, what is your response? Is he saying these words for show? If not, what is he communicating?
11. At the very end, Jesus is misunderstood. He says “My God” but others hear “Elijah.” It is almost a farce, a scene of complete misunderstanding. They offer sour wine to revive him for the end, and Jesus cries out and breathes his last, as if in total humiliation, alienation, consternation, and defeat. What are your feelings about this scene and Jesus?
12. In all of this, what do we learn about the human heart? And the ways of the world?
13. How do you feel when you realize what Jesus went through, what God went through. What is God thinking about all of this?
Jesus before God
50Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. 53After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
14. Jesus dies and the world is jarred: earthquake, tombs opened, temple curtains torn. What do you make of this imagery? What is Matthew trying to say?
15. The only person who speaks a word of defense or exoneration is a Roman soldier, who may or may not have understood what he was saying. Why do you think he said this?
16. In a dramatic way, if there is any hope, it is now taken completely out of human hands on so many levels. If there was no Easter, what would the crucifixion mean?
17. How does Easter put a different spin on what the Roman soldier says?
Discover More about the Message
Reflect on the message you heard in person or on-line. You can listen to the message online here.
- What is something you heard that was interesting or engaging?
- Is there anything that raised a question or needed more explanation?
- What is one thing you take with you? It may be something to do, something to trust, or a wisdom of insight to have.
Together with God in Prayer
OPTION 1: ONE WORD. Take time to reflect about your day, your concerns, and how God may be speaking to you. As you reflect about your day, what is one word that summarizes how you are feeling? What might God be saying to you in this word?
OPTION 2: Reflect on the past 24 hours
- Step 1: Ask God to calm your self and help you see your life from God’s perspective.
- Step 2: Review the last 24 hours. What happened? What stands out? What captures your attention? What is a High and Low of this time? When did you experience God’s presence? When did you feel apart or distant from God?
- Step 3: Give your day to God your day. Ask for forgiveness where needed. Give thanks.
- Step 4: Look forward. How might you be more loving this day? What is God calling you to do?
Who or What can you pray for today?
Close in the Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
FIVE MINUTES WITH GOD
INTRODUCTION: Holy Week begins with a parade, and who doesn’t love a parade! There’s so much singing, hope, and joy. There’s so much joy that if it stopped, the very stones would take up where the people left off. But some bystanders demand that the joy be silenced, and this is an indication of where the week is heading: the betrayal, arrest, denial, torture, and death of Jesus, the “one who comes in the name of the Lord.” Thank God we know that darkness and despair are not the end of the story. We know that an empty tomb and the Risen Jesus are the beginning of a new story!
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: We each live a Holy Week life. We may be caught up in the fun of a parade or the despair of Good Friday. We might be waiting in the uncertainty of Holy Saturday or rejoicing in the new dawn of hope that Easter morning shines. Where are you in Holy Week?
Each day this week, spend five minutes with God reflecting on your life within the story of Holy Week. Psalm 22 would be a good companion for your reflection. Let it be your prayer, knowing that Jesus prays it with you.