Sentenced

By February 21, 2016Church

We Americans love our opinion polls. Mostly we love giving our opinion. But – as we know – not all opinions are equal. Most opinion polls simply pool together the ignorance of masses.

What about the experts?

  • “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” (Decca Recording Co. on declining to sign the Beatles, 1962)
  • “This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” (Western Union memo, 1876)
  • “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” (Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943)
  • “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” (20th Century Fox, 1946)

The search for truth is not new to our day and age. Since the beginning of time, people have searched for the truth.

A Roman governor named Pilate searching for the truth collides with Jesus. From an ancient perspective, Pilate would appear to have the upper hand but that’s not how it plays out …

28 Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor. By now it was early morning, and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness they did not enter the palace, because they wanted to be able to eat the Passover. 29 So Pilate came out to them and asked, “What charges are you bringing against this man?” 30 “If he were not a criminal,” they replied, “we would not have handed him over to you.” 31 Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” “But we have no right to execute anyone,” they objected. 32 This took place to fulfill what Jesus had said about the kind of death he was going to die. 33 Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” 34 “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” 35 “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”  37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” 38 “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him.  39 But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” 40 They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising. — John 18:28-40

The choice that faced the mob in Jerusalem is still our choice today. Who will we follow? Who will be our king?

Barabbas is a run-of-the-mill criminal. Depending on your perspective, Jesus is either a threat or a peasant or your Savior.

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. 4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” 6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” 7 The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. [For a superstitious Roman like Pilate, this spooked him. In fact, John tells us he was afraid]. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” 12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. — John 19:1-15

The Day of Preparation is the day before Passover. For the Jewish people, that was when they slaughtered their lambs in preparation for their celebration of Passover.

The symbolism of Jesus being the Lamb of God is incredibly powerful.

When you think about it, Pilate is a strange blip on the pages of history. What are the odds of an ordinary Roman governor, out on the fringe of the empire, having his name mentioned in Christian churches all over the world, 2,000 years after he died?

Pilate is mentioned in both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed. Pontius Pilate is a name known to millions of people all over the world.

Yet in ordinary history books you may never find his name. He was never a great conqueror, he never came up with any great inventions or scientific truths, and no one would consider Pilate a great teacher of wisdom.

How did Pilate become so famous? He had an encounter with truth.

He isn’t remembered because he was confronted with truth and shouted “Eureka! I found it!” No. Pontius Pilate is remembered because he looked truth straight in the eye and denied its existence.

Pilate’s question is still a good one: What is truth?

Though Jesus remained silent in front of Pilate, he had already answered the question … “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Jesus isn’t simply offering a roadmap to heaven. He isn’t just offering a collection of ideas and facts.

He is offering himself.