Reading Time: 7 Minutes
In previous articles, I have used an imaginary narrator to describe the events. I use this method to both worship our Lord and to gain a personal insight into the Scriptures. It would have been very difficult for one of Jesus’ followers from Galilee to actually penetrate the trial of Jesus, but for the sake of meditation we will view this passage from that viewpoint.
The narration begins: I returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives early in the morning. My body was exhaustion beyond comprehension after going through the events of the past day. I told myself that I had slept in the Garden of Gethsemane, while Jesus prayed his heart out. I reminded myself that I wasn’t the one being spit upon and beaten in the chief priest’s house. I wasn’t the one on trial for my life.
When I reached the courtyard to Pilate’s quarters, I stood as inconspicuously as possible to the rear of the crowd. Pilate took his seat in his chair of judgment and Jesus was pushed like a common criminal to stand before him.
Pilate surveyed the Temple authorities, the crowd and Jesus. He looked weary and finally said to Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus simply replied, “You say so” (Matthew 27.11).
If Pilate was expecting Jesus to explain himself, Jesus didn’t. He didn’t talk about all of the people he had healed or delivered. He didn’t use any of his great wisdom to defend himself. He simply spoke those three words and gazed silently at Pilate.
Pilate seemed taken aback. He looked like he was deep in thought and finally said, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” (Matthew 27.13).
I once heard that Jesus was able to sleep through a storm that nearly capsized the boat he was in (Matthew 8.23-27). I wasn’t there when that happened, but he seemed perfectly calm in the midst of this great storm. Even though he was on trial for his life, he looked like the one who was in charge.
Barabbas or Jesus?
While religious leaders continued their accusations against Jesus, Pilate silenced them and called to one of his servants. They talked animatedly for a few minutes. The servant went into Pilates headquarters and returned a few minutes later with a well-known freedom fighter named, Barabbas.
Pilate silenced the murmuring in the crowd and said, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
I knew that Pilate understood the shrewd plotting of the Temple authorities. He knew they were jealous of people like John the Baptist and Jesus. Hope began to arise in me that Jesus might actually be spared crucifixion.
The crowd was growing agitated, but Pilate put his hand up for order. As he did, another servant brought him a note. Everything stopped while he read and re-read the message. I later learned that the message from his wife said, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him” (Matthew 27.15-19).
While Pilate read and talked with his servant, the chief priests and elders fanned out through the crowd. I heard them whispering, “Ask for Barabbas.”
Pilate turned to the crowd with a deeper expression of concern and worry than before. In a loud voice he addressed the crowd and said, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?”
With one voice the crowd said, “Barabbas.”
Pilate said, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
All of them said louder than before, “Let him be crucified!”
Pilate seemed to not want to let their judgment stand. He asked in somewhat of a defeated voice, “Why, what evil has he done?”
But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” (Matthew 27.20-23).
While the crowd continued to shout for my Savior and Lord to be crucified, Pilate called to one of his servants, who brought a basin of water. Pilate washed his hands of the whole affair and said, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves” (Matthew 27.24).
The mob, and that is what they were by now, was so incensed and rabid that they actually called down a curse on themselves. The chief priests and elders cried out with the whole crowd joining in, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27.26).
That was it. My heart was completely destroyed. The best person I could ever have hoped to know was going to be crucified. I looked around in the crowd and was surprised to see some of the women who had followed Jesus from Galilee. Like me, their faces were in tremendous anguish and tears flooded their eyes.
Jesus was led away and I am so glad that I didn’t see what happened to him. I wanted to be with him, but I don’t think I could stand to see him mocked and beaten again (Matthew 27.27-31).
O Worship The King!
Seven hundred years before these events, Isaiah prophesied the words below. As you consider our mediation of Jesus’ trial and the message of Isaiah, join me in worshiping Jesus for the magnificent gift of his love and grace.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the punishment that made us whole,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have all turned to our own way,
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53.5-6)
By a perversion of justice he was taken away.
Who could have imagined his future?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people. (Isaiah 53.8)
Out of his anguish he shall see light;
he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.
The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong;
because he poured out himself to death,
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53.11-12)