Mar. 13, 2012
Then the whole assembly rose and let him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
The Jerusalem Sanhedrin unilaterally determined that Jesus is “guilty.” Now, the entire group hauls him off to Pilate. Not one or two, or even a small group. All 71 Pharisees and Sadducees are part of a great procession to Pilate’s Palace.
Let’s try to follow what is happening. The Sanhedrin was the Jewish religious ruling council. These are men who had studied the Torah (the first five books of our Old Testament) and knew all the rules. They are looked upon as decision makers within the Jewish faith. Their equivalent today might be a religious denominational governing body.
Pilate is a Roman governor, appointed by Caesar, who presides over the Roman government. We could think of Caesar in terms of the US President and Pilate as a state governor. It was unlawful for the Jewish Sanhedrin to kill Jesus. This would be breaking one of the 10 Commandments: “Thou shall not kill.” Crucifixion was carried out by the Roman government. The Sanhedrin needed Pilate to rule for Jesus’ death. In order to put pressure on Pilate, all 71 religious leaders trek over to his palace. Others tagged along to witness what would happen and show support for Jesus’ death.
In essence, Jesus went through two trials: one before the Sanhedrin and one before Pilate. While we think this is unusual, let’s be honest. We use the same tactic.
A child doesn’t like the response from one parent and tries for the desired answer from the other parent. Your significant other doesn’t quite respond the way you want. You wait a day and go back with more and improved ammunition. Your boss just doesn’t see the full picture. Just this once, you’ll go to his or her supervisor to make impact. Isn’t this basic fodder for TV Soap Operas?
Sometimes second pleas are necessary and elicit the desired response. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. We may think the Jewish religious leaders were conniving and tricky. But don’t we do this?
A couple years ago, I really wanted to redo one of our bathrooms. Rick didn’t think it was necessary. I planned a little trip for us to Kohler to visit their design center, gathering ideas for bathrooms. I called a plumber and discovered they had a jet bathtub that would fit perfectly into the space we had. And he offered it at a significant discount! I brought home tile samples and asked Rick which he preferred. I agreed to delay new carpeting if we would redo the bathroom. Eventually, Rick caved in. I have a beautiful, relaxing bathroom; but only because I was a little more than persistent, maybe even tricky.
Unintentionally or intentionally, we sometimes plot and prod until we get what we want. The difference for us: usually, it’s not our life that is at stake. Yes, people have been wrongly convicted, as Jesus was. Most of our personal situations are not quite as dramatic. Admittedly, a bathroom redo is not nearly as imperative as a man’s life. But much as we dislike admitting it, are not there at least a little Pharisaic tendencies in all of us?
Let us pray: Was it for crimes that I have done He groaned upon the tree? Amazing pity! Grace unknown! And love beyond degree! Amen