Pastor David B. Curtis

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Pilate Judges Yeshua

John 19:1-16

Delivered 11/18/18

We are working our way through the Gospel of John and are currently looking at the final stages of the trial of Yeshua. It is the last day of His earthly life and He was arrested while in the garden with His disciples. After arresting Yeshua they take Him to Jerusalem to be tried by the Jewish leaders. As we have been saying, Yeshua actually had two trials that each had three parts. Our Lord has an ecclesiastical or religious trial, and then He has a civil trial. He was judged before the authorities of Israel, and then He was judged before the Roman authorities.

Yeshua first appeared before Annas who was the real power behind the high priest, he was the political boss of Jerusalem. And then secondly, He appears in an illegal midnight trial before Caiaphas who was serving as high priest that year. And then finally, He appeared before a formal session of the Sanhedrin at daybreak, which formally condemned Him to death for blasphemy. Yeshua, claimed equality with God, and they saw this as blasphemy.

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Yeshua to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. Matthew 27:1-2 ESV

Why did the Jewish leaders hate Yeshua so much that they wanted Him dead? Mark tells us why:

For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. Mark 15:10 ESV

Envy is a powerful emotion. To envy is to desire to have what someone else has. It is similar to the word "covet," but "envy" carries with it the sense of being resentful at the advantage another has. Envy is an evil and resentful desire to have what someone else enjoys. This is the desire the religious officials felt towards Yeshua.

When the religious trial was over the Jews took Yeshua to Pilate, because they wanted Him crucified and did not have the power to do it. At the civil trial before Pilate, Pilate says of Yeshua, "I find no guilt in him."The next part of the trial was before the Jewish monarch, Herod, who demanded a miracle, and when Yeshua would not perform for him, he had Him beaten and sent back to Pilate. The third part of His civil trial was before Pilate in which He again found no fault in Him, but put Him before the people to be released, but the people chose Barabbas. We ended last week with:

Pilate said to him, "What is truth?" After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, "I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" They cried out again, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Now Barabbas was a robber. John 18:38-40 ESV

Pilate tries to release Yeshua, but the crowds call for the release of a man who has committed murder in his struggle against Rome, while condemning a man falsely accused of being a danger to Rome.

Barabbas represents all the elect of God, he represents all those who have been given to the Son by the Father. Barabbas found himself walking free because Yeshua died in his place.

From Barabbas our text in John goes to:

Then Pilate took Yeshua and flogged him. John 19:1 ESV

We all know that Yeshua was flogged before He was crucified, but this may not be what Lazarus is referring to here. If we look at Mark's account he goes from Barabbas to the flogging to the soldiers mocking Him.

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Yeshua, he delivered him to be crucified. Mark 15:15 ESV

But in our text in John Yeshua isn't delivered over to be crucified until verse 16, and His final trial with Pilate. Something we need to understand is that the Bible, being an ancient eastern book, does not focus on chronology, as do modern western historical accounts. So this doesn't have to be taken chronologically. But in the first part of the trial before Pilate, Pilate says, "I find no guilt in Him." Then in the third part of the trial in 19:4, Pilate again says, "I find no guilt in Him." If Pilate says that Yeshua is innocent why is he having Him flogged? Why would you flog an innocent man?

The Romans had a saying about their law: "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." Nothing was to come before justice in the Roman mind, so then why was Pilate having a man in whom he finds no guilt flogged?

What I see as happening here is that Pilate is having Yeshua flogged in hopes that that will be enough to satisfy the Jews lust for blood. He doesn't want to upset the crowd and cause a problem for himself, but neither does he want to condemn an innocent man. So he flogs Yeshua hoping that will be enough punishment to satisfy the Jews.

Now you might be thinking how I came up with that. Well first of all we have Pilate flogging a man who he says is innocent. Secondly, the word Lazarus uses for flogged is mastigoo, which is a general term that means to be whipped. But in Matthew 27:26 and Mark 15:15, the original Greek verb is the more specific phragelloo, which means to be whipped with the Roman flagellum.

The Romans had three forms of bodily punishment. These are associated with beatings with fists, canes, or whips. The first is known as fustigatio or beating with fists, the second as flagellatio or flogging, and the third as verberatio or scourging; all in ascending gradation. The most fearsome whip was the flagrum that was used in gladiatorial combats as well as an instrument of punishment. It was a whip with thongs tipped with dumb-bell shaped metal pellets that ripped and shredded flesh. Beating was used as a form of corrective punishment in itself, but more severe punishment was a part of the sentence for one condemned for a capital offence (Livy, History of Rome, xxxi, 29).

In this last form, the victim was stripped and tied to a post, and then beaten by several torturers (in the Roman provinces they were soldiers). The Jewish Law limited the lashes to forty. What was Rome's limit? There were no limits put on Roman scourging. The soldiers would beat the prisoner until they were exhausted, or their commanding officer called them off. The beatings were so savage that many people died in the scourging; they didn't even make it to the cross. It was an absolutely horrid torture.

Eusebius, Bishop of Caesarea, wrote about scourging in his letter to the Church in Smyrna. He wrote that it was a punishment that was inflicted on those to be executed, which produced terrible results: veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were opened to exposure (Epistle of the Church in Smyrna). This is how the Messiah is described in:

As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— Isaiah 52:14 ESV

This was the kind of torture our Savior endured before He reached the cross. The prophet Isaiah wrote in his prophecies of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh:

I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. Isaiah 50:6 ESV

So I think that Pilate ordered his soldiers to have Yeshua scourged in the apparent hope that this punishment would satisfy the Chief priests and Pharisees. Luke helps us see this in:

Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him." Luke 23:15-16 ESV

It seems that Pilate hoped to have Him flogged and then release Him. The flogging threatened in Luke and reported in our text in John is the mastigoo, the least severe form. If the chronology of Luke and John is correct, this means that Yeshua received a second scourging, a much more violent one, after the sentence of crucifixion was passed.

And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. John 19:2 ESV

How many soldiers were involved in this? Mark tells us "They called together the whole battalion"

And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor's headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. Mark 15:16 ESV

A battalion was about 600 soldiers. This sounds like all the soldiers in Jerusalem came out to mock Yeshua.

"Crown of thorns"—these thorns probably came from a local date palm tree. The crown of thorns resembled the circlet worn by the Roman Emperor Tiberius and made famous by the coins of that day. It supposedly gave something of divine radiance of the emperor. However the palm fronds, when turned inward instead of outward on such wreath "crowns," proved to be painful spikes. This crown was intended not only to mock, but also to cause pain.

The Roman soldiers made a crown as a sign of "kingship," to mock the man who the Jewish crowd, several days earlier, had claimed to be "King of the Jews" (John 12:13).

This crown of thorns may be a visible expression of the fact that Yeshua is bearing the curse brought about by sin in the Garden of Eden. Hosea writes:

The high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. Thorn and thistle shall grow up on their altars, and they shall say to the mountains, "Cover us," and to the hills, "Fall on us." Hosea 10:8 ESV

Hosea writes that when judgment is visited upon the covenant people for breaking Yahweh's covenant: thorns and thistles will grow over their altars. Yeshua, in His suffering, took upon Himself the curses of the covenant on behalf of His people.

They came up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and struck him with their hands. John 19:3 ESV

The Roman soldiers cried out "Ave" ("Hail") as they would to Caesar, as they slapped Yeshua in the face. Despite this tragic parody of the Romans, the truth is that only Yeshua of Nazareth is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!

That Yeshua submits to such abuse teaches us that power does not function in the Kingdom of God the way it does in the world. Yeshua had taught His disciples:

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:4 ESV

Now here stands Christ fleshing this teaching out. Yeshua could have spoken a word and destroyed these men, but He humbly stands silent taking all they dish out.

Pilate went out again and said to them, "See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him." John 19:4 ESV

Pilate incorrectly hoped that if he scourged Yeshua, this would satisfy the Jews. Pilate didn't flog Yeshua in order to be crucified, but in order to escape crucifixion. This is the second of three times that Pilate says that he finds no guilt in Yeshua.

What is interesting here is that if you compare the four Gospels you find that Yeshua is declared innocent a total of seven times. The number seven is a significant number to the Jews; it pictures completion, perfection. First, Judas declared "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4). Second, Pilate declared, "I find no fault in Him" (John 18 38). Third, Herod said, "Nothing worthy of death is done unto Him" (Luke 23:15). Fourth, Pilate's wife says, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him." (Matt. 27:19). Fifth, the dying thief affirmed, "We receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss" (Luke 23:41). Sixth, the Roman centurion who glorified God, said, "Certainly this was a righteous man" (Luke 23:47). Seventh, those who stood with the centurion acknowledged, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54)!

So Yeshua came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Behold the man!" John 19:5 ESV

"Behold the man!"—many Scholars identify this statement as a classical Latin expression of pity. To the people who must choose the man who will receive the governor's amnesty, he presents Yeshua as a beaten, harmless and rather pathetic figure to make their choice of Has easy as possible. Pilate's utterance "Behold the man" is dripping with irony: Does this beaten and bloody man really look like a king? Can't you see He is harmless and somewhat ridiculous? If Pilate is mocking Yeshua, he is ridiculing the Jewish authorities as well. But instead of moving them to compassion, the Jews called for Yeshua's crucifixion.

For Lazarus, Pilate's words may constitute an unconscious allusion to Zech 6:

And say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD. Zechariah 6:12 ESV

For John ,Pilate was unknowingly and ironically presenting Yeshua to the nation under a messianic title!

Pilate's reluctance to have Yeshua crucified is surprising when you consider what contemporary historians wrote about Pilate. According to the historical record, Pontius Pilate's contempt for the Jewish community engendered protest, unrest, and resentment. The Jewish historian and theologian Philo of Alexandria described Pilate as a man of inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate (On the Embassy to Gaius, 38.301).

The Jewish historian, Josephus, also reported that the excessive force which Pilate used to quell riots often resulted in great loss of life (Antiquities of the Jews 18.3.2). The Gospel of Luke 13:1 supports Josephus' claim by mentioning certain Galileans "whose blood Pilate mingled with their sacrifices".

When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him." John 19:6 ESV

This is the third time Pilate has pronounced that he can find no just cause for a death sentence to be imposed on this man (John 18:38 and 19:4). Both Lazarus and Luke (3:4, 14, & 22) are careful to record that Pilate had confirmed Yeshua's innocence three different times during the trial.

"Take him yourselves and crucify him"—this is not a formal transfer of his prerogatives to the Jewish court, the Jews make no attempt at this point to seize Yeshua and crucify Him. Pilate's statement here is one of frustration and perhaps sarcasm. You bring him to me for trial, but you will not accept my judgment.

The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God." John 19:7 ESV

For the first time they actually lay out the real charge against Yeshua. They tell Pilate that Yeshua has blasphemed by claiming to be the Son of God and that according to Jewish law Yeshua must be put to death:

Whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:16 ESV

Leviticus says that a blasphemer should be stoned to death, and the Mishnah directed that the offender is to be stoned first and then hung.(Mishnah: Sanhedrin 6:4).

If we compare all four Gospel accounts we see that the Jews charged seven indictments against Christ. First, they charged Him with threatening to destroy the Temple (Matt. 26:61); second, with being an "evil doer" (John 18:30); third, with "perverting the nation" (Luke 23:2); fourth, with "forbidding to give tribute to Caesar" (Luke 23:2); fifth, with stirring up all the people (Luke 23:5); sixth, with being "a king" (Luke 23:2); seventh, with making Himself the Son of God (John 19:7). This sevenfold indictment witnessed to the completeness of their rejection of Him!

When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. John 19:8 ESV

What statement? "He has made himself the Son of God"—why would that bother Pilate? To a Roman the title of "Son of God" would indicate a divine man with supernatural powers. Pilate had no doubt heard of the miracles Yeshua had been doing for the past three years, and his wife had already indicated that this man had some power over her dreams.

The citizens of the Roman empire and, within certain limits, even its rulers were extremely tolerant of foreign gods. The oldest and most accepted group of foreign deities were the gods of ancient Greece. These gods had made their home in the Roman world at an early time, along with Greek art and literature. Some of these Greek gods shared Roman names and acquired some Roman characteristics. But many others were simply accepted as they were.

The world of the early Roman Empire was also inhabited by another group of individuals who could serve as intermediaries between the gods above and the world below. These were the demi-gods or heroes, individuals of mixed parentage (human and divine). They were usually credited with possessing extraordinary powers, while also possessing great understanding of and compassion for the pain and suffering of ordinary human beings.

In general, their demi-god status is expressed in the fact that they live as mortals; but when they die, they retain their fully vigorous human appearance, as well as their former powers. Because of their unique status and qualities, in the popular imagination these demi-gods were frequently regarded as protectors. In the world of the first century, Hercules and Asclepius were two of the most widely worshiped of these protector or "savior" gods.

So Pilate knows that He's a miracle worker. Now He's called the Son of God. So he maybe thinking He is one of the gods or a child of the gods who's come down to earth to confront me.

To show you that this is what they believed, we see in Iconium that Paul heals a man, and the crowds response is:

And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Acts 14:11-12 ESV

They believed that the gods had come down in the past. There are many stories in Roman mythology about the gods coming down. We also see this in Acts 28 when Paul while gathering sticks for a fire was bitten by the snake at Malta, he shook the snake off.

He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god. Acts 28:5-6 ESV

So they believed that the gods could come down as men. And add to this what Pilate's wife says to him:

Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream." Matthew 27:19 ESV

So the Jews say that Yeshua claims to be the Son of God and his wife tells him to have nothing to do with Yeshua, because He is a righteous man, and he knows that Yeshua is innocent so he wants to release Him. Pilate's running a little scared.

As a side note here, many historical records indicate that Pilot's wife, Claudia, became a Christian following the crucifixion. A non-canonical apocryphal Gospel, the Gospel of Nicodemus, describes Claudia as a convert to Judaism. Greek Orthodox Christians as well as Coptic Christians place Claudia and Pilate in their Catalogue of the Saints.

Bishop Eusebius, quoting the second century priest, apologist and Roman lawyer, Tertullian, in his forth century Church History, wrote that both Pilate and his wife became converts to Christianity. Eusebius recorded that Pilate made a full report of Yeshua's resurrection to the Emperor Tiberius, who referred the matter to the Roman Senate with a recommendation that Yeshua of Nazareth be declared a god, but the Senate rejected the proposal. Eusebius also reports that the Roman Emperor Caligula forced Pilate to commit suicide because of his Christian faith (Eusebius, History of the Church 2.21-2).

He entered his headquarters again and said to Yeshua, "Where are you from?" But Yeshua gave him no answer. John 19:9 ESV

"Where are you from?"—Pilate knew He was from Galilee, we saw this in Luke 23, that's not what he's asking. What he is asking is, Did You come down from the gods?

Some biblical scholars indicate that the Greek text suggests Pilate is asking "What is the secret of your origin? Who are you really?"

Here we see another seven. The question of Yeshua's origin has already been asked six times in John's Gospel. The question was first asked by the members of the wedding party at Cana in 2:9. Then by the Samaritan woman in 4:11. Then by the Apostles and the multitude in 6:5. This question was also asked three different times by the Jewish leaders in 7:27f, in 8:14, and in 9:29. Now, for the seventh time in John's Gospel, Pilate asks Yeshua about His origin.

So Pilate is faced with the mystery of Yeshua's origin, which is the theme of John's entire Gospel! Throughout His ministry, the answer to this question was given: Yeshua came down to earth from the Father in heaven (John 3:13, 31; 6:41-42, 50-51, 58).

For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. John 6:38 ESV

Pilate was somewhat concerned, but Yeshua didn't answer him:

So Pilate said to him, "You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?" John 19:10 ESV

Pilate is issuing a threat, and Yeshua's response informs Pilate that his threat is an empty one.

Yeshua answered him, "You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin." John 19:11 ESV

Yeshua claims that all authority comes from God. Since Yeshua is Yahweh , He and the Father are one, He also is claiming that Pilate's authority is from Him. Yeshua is saying, Pilate you are a prefect of Judea simply because God in heaven has determined that you be that. That could be said of President Trump and it could have been said of Obama and Clinton.

Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; Daniel 2:20-21 ESV

Pilate cannot do anything to Yeshua other than what has been predetermined by God.

"He who delivered me over to you has the greater sin"—who is He talking about here? Some see this as referring to Judas Iscariot. (cf. 6:71; 13:21; 18:2). But Judas did not hand Yeshua over directly to Pilate, but to the Jewish authorities.

In speaking of His betrayal Yeshua used the present tense, which most scholars suggest indicates that Yeshua was not speaking specifically about Judas, but about the Jewish authorities who were presently in the act of bringing about His death. The singular "he who," is probably a reference to the High Priest Caiaphas who served as the leader and the chief representative of the Jewish authorities.

From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, "If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar." John 19:12 ESV

The Greek word expressing Pilate's desire to release Yeshua can be translated as: "was anxious," or "was eager," or "was striving." In Acts 3:13, Peter comments on Pilate's intentions when he says to the Jewish crowds:

The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Yeshua, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. Acts 3:13 ESV

Pilate "had decided to release Him"—this is an imperfect tense, which means: "repeated action in past time." He had tried several times, he wanted to release Yeshua.

"If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend"these Jewish leaders are taking a very hard-line stance with Pilate. Even though they are a subject people, they would rather risk the wrath of Pilate and of Rome than to allow Yeshua to remain alive and free.

This was no empty threat and Pilate knew it. He could not afford to have it reported to the Emperor that he had acquitted a man who was accused of claiming the title of King of the Jews, an act of treason against the Empire. If Pilate now failed to convict Yeshuathe Jewish authorities could complain to Rome that Pilate had released a traitor.

Pilate had been close to Aurelius Sejanus, the commander of Caesar's praetorian guard, and one of the most powerful men in Rome. About a year earlier, Sejanus had been executed for plotting against Caesar and many of his other friends had been executed as well. Against that backdrop, Pilate realized that as much as he wanted to release Yeshua, he couldn't risk word reaching Rome that he had spared a man who "speaks against Caesar" and was therefore no longer "Caesar's friend."

So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Yeshua out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. John 19:13 ESV

One more seven. The trial of Christ before Pilate was in seven stages. This is seen by noting the Scriptures, which speak of the Governor passing in and out of the judgment-hall. The first stage was on the outside: 18:28-32. The second on the inside: 18:33-37. Third, on the outside: 18:38-40. Fourth, inside: 19:1-3. Fifth, outside: 19:4-7. Sixth, inside: 19:8-11. Seventh, outside: 19:12-16."

Lithostrotos, which in Greek means "the pavement" (a name also used in the Septuagint translation in 2 Chronicles 7:3 for the pavement of Solmon's Temple) and the Aramaic name Gabbatha, meaning "mound or high place," which may not refer to the "pavement" area specifically but in general to the location of the judgment seat on the height of the Antonia fortress which overlooked the Temple area or to an upper hall in Herod's palace.

The irony of the scene again stands out. Here was a corrupt Roman official sitting in judgment on the Person into whose hands God the Father had committed all judgment (5:22).

Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, "Behold your King!" John 19:14 ESV

Many scholars maintain that John is identifying the day of Yeshua's crucifixion as the "Day of Preparation" for the Sacrifice of the lambs and kids at the Temple on the very day Yeshua was tried and crucified. John made this chronological reference to encourage the reader to connect Yeshua with the Passover lamb.

"It was about the sixth hour"—for John, the time is especially important. When the note concerning the hour is connected with the day, the preparation of the Passover, it becomes apparent that Yeshua is going to die on the cross at the very time that the Passover lambs are being slain in the Temple courts. Mark 15:25, says it was, the third hour. John says, "about," which makes it clear that his reference is only approximate. The time designations may be symbolic in all the Gospels for they relate to the time of daily sacrifices.

John introduces this time factor here as a symbolic way of saying that the true Passover lamb was none other than Yeshua Himself: He was sentenced to be slaughtered just as the slaughter of the lambs began.

They cried out, "Away with him, away with him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." John 19:15 ESV

"We have no king but Caesar"—this is Johannine irony at its height. The Jews who taught that God created gentiles to provide fuel for the fires of hell declare their total allegiance to Caesar. The Jews, whose ferocious antagonism forced the Romans in Palestine to make numerous religious exceptions to their normal occupation policies, claim Caesar to be their king.

A daily Jewish prayer requested that God send the Messiah, and another prayer later used in the Passover liturgy affirms that God alone is king. Even aside from the speakers' possible sarcasm here, many Sadducean elite priests probably were more concerned about their future with Rome than with Yahweh. Listen to Isaiah:

For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us. Isaiah 33:22 ESV

They knew that. That's repeated many places in the Tanakh. But now the Jewish leaders shouted out that they had no King, and by inference, no god, except the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar who was acknowledged as the son of a god by the Roman people. Their statement, We have no king except Caesar, is a major breach of the Covenant! It is a violation of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:3, 5): "You shall have no other gods to rival me. You shall not bow down to them or serve them. For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God."

They were now repudiating Israel's messianic hope, including the messianic kingdom, and rejecting Yahweh's sovereignty over their nation (Judg. 8:23; 1 Sam. 8:7). The Jewish hierarchy had accused Yeshua of blaspheming, but now these men were themselves guilty of blasphemy.

Matthew fills in some details for us:

So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" Matthew 27:24-25 ESV

Notice what the crowd said, "His blood be on us and on our children." Yeshua had already said that Israel's leaders would be guilty of His blood:

You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell? Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Matthew 23:33-35 ESV

Yeshua's charge is that the history of Israel is the history of the murder of the men of God-including Himself. He says that the righteous men, from Abel to Zacharias, were murdered. The story of Zacharias is found in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22. Zacharias rebuked the nation for their sin, and Joash stirred up the people to stone him to death in the very Temple court. And Zacharias died saying, "May the Lord see and avenge!"

In the Hebrew Bible, Genesis is the first book, as it is in ours; but, unlike our order of the books, 2 Chronicles is the last in the Hebrew Bible. We could say that the murder of Abel is the first in the Bible story, and the murder of Zacharias the last. From beginning to end, the history of Israel is the rejection, and often the slaughter, of the men of God-including Yeshua their Christ.

By rejecting Christ they brought upon themselves the wrath of God who used Caesar as his rod. A.D.66 the Jews revolted against Rome. In retaliation, four Roman legions ravaged Judea, burned down the city of Jerusalem, destroyed the Temple in A.D.70. Many of the Jewish survivors were sold into slavery, disbursing them across the Roman Empire.

Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Matthew 23:36 ESV

Now, all commentators are agreed that "this generation" means the generation then living. Yeshua says that the Jewish people would be punished for their rejection of God's servants, and the Kingdom of God would be taken from them, and it would all happen in that generation.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. Matthew 23:37-38 ESV

By "house," he was referring to Jerusalem, and certainly the Temple, was included. The word "desolate" is the Greek word eremos; it means: "waste, desert, desolate, solitary, or wilderness." The city and the Temple were both destroyed in A.D. 70. The crowd cried out, "His blood be on us and on our children," and it was. Judgment fell on that very generation.

So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. So they took Yeshua, John 19:16 ESV

It's very important to understand at this point in the story that Pilot is on very thin ice politically. Pilot was a representative of the Roman government, but it had numerous clashes with the Jewish religious leaders in Jerusalem. The religious leaders had filed formal charges against Pilot on several occasions, and Rome was tired of it. Pilot was convinced if it happened again, he would probably lose his post. So he's in a very delicate position politically. By now Pilate had given up on any idea of justice. His only desire was to pacify this crowd that had suddenly become so fired up, and if it meant the life of an innocent man, it was out of his hands.

Here stands a beaten, bloody Christ about to be crucified on a Roman cross. But He is not a helpless victim being brutalized by the will of the people. We can talk about Pilate, the religious leaders, and the multitude joining in the most criminal act in history, but behind it all is the unseen providence of God. God's providence is not His wish for things, but His wise, righteous governance of the affairs of men in order to bring about His eternal purposes. The early church understood this as we see in their prayer:

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. Acts 4:27-28 ESV

What happened to Christ was exactly what God had planned and predestined to take place. Why did God plan the brutal death of His Son? He did it for us! That's how much He loves us.

Continue the Series

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