April 18 I Thursday
2 Samuel 3-5
“Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, ‘Are You the king of the Jews?’”
From beginning to end, Jesus’s trial was a sham of justice. All kinds of false witnesses accused Him of things He never did. The Sanhedrin charged Him with blasphemy, but only after two witnesses misinterpreted some of His teachings. But now the Jewish leaders had a problem: they wanted Jesus put to death for this crime, yet as a conquered people under the Roman Empire, they were not permitted to perform executions. This sentence could only come from Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judah at the time.
Pilate was charged with representing Caesar’s interests and with ensuring the citizens of Judah followed Rome’s leadership. Anyone who threatened this rule of law was to be dealt with severely. Knowing this, the Jews used a political argument to carry out their religiously driven desire to have Jesus crucified. Pilate would never sentence a man to death simply because he broke the laws of a religious group, but challenges to Caesar’s authority were a whole other matter. Hence why, before Pilate, the Jews charged Jesus with claiming to be a king who opposed taxes, disregarded Caesar and riled people up all over Judea.
Pilate approached this trial politically, but Jesus answered him theologically. When Pilate asked Jesus if He truly claimed to be a king as the Jews had said, He responded, “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” (John 18:37). Rather than respond to this loaded statement, Pilate retorted, “What is truth?” He tried to have Jesus released, but when he saw this verdict might stir up the Jews to rebellion, Pilate washed his hands clean of the case and knowingly condemned an innocent man to be crucified.
The role of a judge in a trial is to seek the truth of a matter by weighing a body of evidence and rendering a verdict, but this is not what happened the day Truth was on trial. Pilate was a weak judge, condemning Jesus to death based on lying witnesses, deceptive motives and political anxieties. He missed and ignored much of the evidence, but thankfully, we also have the chance to weigh the evidence of who Christ is and why He was condemned. Will we wash our hands clean of the case, or will we believe Jesus’s testimony and take the side of truth? “Seek and you will find,” Christ says (Matthew 7:7), for when we seek with open hearts, Christ will reveal to us not only the truth of what happened that first, fateful Easter, but that He is the truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You that You stand for what is true no matter what falsehoods or injustices are set against You. You are the Truth, and I trust You.
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