As we follow the events, as recorded by Luke, Jesus is now at his fourth and final trial. No one could prove him guilty, but that didn’t stop the cries for his crucifixion.
Before Pilate for a second time, the religious leaders and the crowd demand the death of the Son of God.
Pilate began this court session by declaring Jesus innocent of their charges.
— Luke 23.13-16 – Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people,
And said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him.
“Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death.
“I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”
Flogging was no minor punishment. The best evidence reveals Roman flogging to involve incredible pain and suffering.
“The flagrum was a whip with a short handle and generally two or three long thick thongs, each weighted at some distance from their extremity with lead balls or mutton bones. In action, the thongs cut the skin, while the balls or bones created deep contusions.
“The result was significant hemorrhage and considerable weakening of the vital resistance of the victim. In compensation, if one may call it that, this weakening shortened their agony on the cross.” (Internet article on Roman flogging)
Flogging, no matter how horrific, was not enough for the crowd. They demanded the ultimate painful death, crucifixion.
— Luke 23.18-25 – Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!”
(This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.)
Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!”
A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.”
But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed.
So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted.
He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.
Bible students speculate about Pilate’s motives for declaring Jesus innocent. Pilate was not a religious or compassionate ruler.
I agree with some students that Pilate’s actions were motivated by a desire to make life difficult for the ruling religious class of Jerusalem. Whether this is true or not, the end result was “their voices prevailed” (verse 23).
The guilty verdict and the release of a criminal were part of Isaiah’s prophecy. Below are a couple of significant verses from Isaiah’s prophecy.
He was despised and rejected by others;
a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity;
and as one from whom others hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him of no account. (Isaiah 53.3)
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. (Isaiah 53.5)
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)
A Meditation Exercise
I think the best way to appreciate what Jesus has done for us is to pray and meditate on his Passion. Please try this out as a way to feel deeply about God’s love shown to you.
(1) Begin reading in Luke 22.39, which is the account of Jesus in the Garden. Follow the path Jesus took from the Garden to the cross.
(2) Use your imagination and see yourself present in each of the places where Jesus went – the Garden, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate, Herod, back to Pilate, and each stage on the way to the cross.
(3) At each stage along the way, express to God your love, appreciation, and gratitude for salvation through Jesus Christ.
I have used this meditation to end my day before going to sleep for the past several evenings. It has deepened my relationship with God. I believe it will do the same for you.
Rudy Ross brings a valuable Jewish perspective to our study. Please take a few minutes to listen to Rudy on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.