Condemned to Death

Up to this point in the narrative the chief priests, scribes, and leaders have been the ones who have been active throughout the arrest, hearing and trials of Jesus. While in the privacy of the Sanhedrin gathering, the charges brought against Jesus by this group were religious.  Once the assembly moved to the public forum involving Pilate, the charges became secular – “misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.” (23:2)  In the start of this section, “the people” are now present. Previously the people have supported Jesus (cf. 19:47-48, 20:1, 20:6, 20:19, 21:38) – what will they do now? Continue reading

Delivered to Prefects and Kings

Alan Culpepper commented that reading the arrest and trials of Jesus is, for him, like watching film footage of John Kennedy’s motorcade winding through Dallas in 1963 or the 1986 launch of the Challenger space shuttle.  We know what is coming, we know we have no power to undo them, but are compelled to watch because we honor the loss of great people doing what was theirs to do. At a more intimate level we know that the encounter of Jesus and Pilate is a scene wherein both face the test of their convictions. Pilate knows and announces the verdict – innocence, but in the face of an unruly crowd does not have the conviction to persevere.  Neither Herod nor Barabbas provide an avenue to resolve the crisis when the leaders of Jewish Jerusalem are ever at work to animate the crowd to bend Pilate’s to their will. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – Condemned to Death

Up to this point in the narrative the chief priests, scribes, and leaders have been the ones who have been active throughout the arrest, hearing and trials of Jesus. While in the privacy of the Sanhedrin gathering, the charges brought against Jesus by this group were religious.  Once the assembly moved to the public forum involving Pilate, the charges became secular – “misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.” (23:2)  In the start of this section, “the people” are now present. Previously the people have supported Jesus (cf. 19:47-48, 20:1, 20:6, 20:19, 21:38) – what will they do now? Continue reading

Palm Sunday of the Passion: condemned

Jesus-Pilate2Jesus Is Condemned (27:11-25) The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website.

This is the official trial of Jesus, and yet the description sounds less like a formal judicial hearing than an example of oriental bargaining. Pilate, as prefect of Judea, had the sole authority to acquit or to condemn, and to determine the sentence. There is a perfunctory attempt at a formal examination of the prisoner, but increasingly the dominant force is not the official role of the governor but the demands of the Jewish leaders, backed by ‘the people’. It is here that the focus of Matthew’s attention falls, so that Pilate’s role is as a cast extra on the movie set whose sole role is at best a catalyst which helps to define unequivocally the people’s stance towards the Messiah. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – Condemned to Death

Jesus Condemned by michael o'brianUp to this point in the narrative the chief priests, scribes, and leaders have been the ones who have been active throughout the arrest, hearing and trials of Jesus. While in the privacy of the Sanhedrin gathering, the charges brought against Jesus by this group were religious.  Once the assembly moved to the public forum involving Pilate, the charges became secular – “misleading our people; he opposes the payment of taxes to Caesar and maintains that he is the Messiah, a king.” (23:2)  In the start of this section, “the people” are now present. Previously the people have supported Jesus (cf. 19:47-48, 20:1, 20:6, 20:19, 21:38) – what will they do now? Continue reading

Jesus before Pilate

Jesus and Pilate1 As soon as morning came, the chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” 3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” 5 Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. 6 Now on the occasion of the feast he used to release to them one prisoner whom they requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was then in prison along with the rebels who had committed murder in a rebellion. 8 The crowd came forward and began to ask him to do for them as he was accustomed. 9 Pilate answered, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” 10 For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate again said to them in reply, “Then what (do you want) me to do with (the man you call) the king of the Jews?” 13 They shouted again, “Crucify him.” 14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” They only shouted the louder, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. (Mark 15)
Continue reading

Passion Sunday: condemned

Jesus-Pilate2Jesus Is Condemned (27:11-25) The Gospel reading for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion is quite lengthy and so will not be included here. It can be found at the USCCB website: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/041314.cfm

This is the official trial of Jesus, and yet the description sounds less like a formal judicial hearing than an example of oriental bargaining. Pilate, as prefect of Judea, had the sole authority to acquit or to condemn, and to determine the sentence. There is a perfunctory attempt at a formal examination of the prisoner, but increasingly the dominant force is not the official role of the governor but the demands of the Jewish leaders, backed by ‘the people’. It is here that the focus of Matthew’s attention falls, so that Pilate’s role is as a cast extra on the movie set whose sole role is at best a catalyst which helps to define unequivocally the people’s stance towards the Messiah. Continue reading