“And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked Him, ‘Art thou the King of the Jews?’ And He answering said unto him, ‘Thou sayest it.’ 3 And the chief priests accused Him of many things: but He answered nothing. 4 And Pilate asked Him again, saying, ‘Answerest Thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against Thee.’ 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled. 6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, ‘Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?’ 10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered Him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. 12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, ‘What will ye then that I shall do unto Him whom ye call the King of the Jews?’ 13 And they cried out again, ‘Crucify Him.’ 14 Then Pilate said unto them, ‘Why, what evil hath He done?’ And they cried out the more exceedingly, ‘Crucify Him.’
15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged Him, to be crucified. 16 And the soldiers led Him away into the hall, called Praetorium; and they call together the whole band. 17 And they clothed Him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about His head, 18 And began to salute Him, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ 19 And they smote Him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon Him, and bowing their knees worshipped Him. 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took off the purple from Him, and put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.” Mark 15:1-20 (KJV)
Due to the fact that Israel was not a free country, but was under Roman rule, they had lost their authority to put anyone to death. Therefore, they must take Jesus to the Roman governor, who is Pilate. The religious leaders had found Jesus guilty of blasphemy. The charge was actually that He had said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it again”.
God is on trial before humanity, but who is really the condemned here? Who are the guilty ones? Why is an innocent, guiltless, sinless, spotless, and blemishless man being sentenced to death? To answer those questions – The one’s who are pronouncing death to Jesus. That answers the first two questions. To answer the final one – Because only the death of an innocent, guiltless, sinless, spotless, and blemishless man can atone for sin before holy God, and Jesus fit the bill. It was guilty, sinful, spotted, blemished mankind that condemned Him, but it was for those who condemned Him that He died for the real condemned.
Pilate knows Jesus to be innocent of the charge brought against Him, and that the charge has only been brought due to “envy” (v. 10). Due to the pressure from the people, though, Pilate offers a choice between a murderer [Barabbas], and Jesus. Because of the conspiracy of the religious leaders the people and the priests choose Barabbas (v. 11). When the people cried out for Barabbas Pilate asked, “What shall I do with Jesus, whom you call, ‘King of the Jews?” Their answer to that was, “Crucify Him.”
What a horrible way for a man to die. What an awfully horrible way for the God/Man to die who was not guilty of any sin or wrong doing. Yet, it was determined in the foreknowledge of God, from the foundation of the world, that the Godly should die for the ungodly; the Righteous should die for the unrighteous; the Just should die for the unjust; that the Sinless should die for the sinful. “But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:8).
“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” 1 Peter 1:17-21
The hands of sinful men striking the sinless Son of God. The thorns of a tree representing the wages of sin placed on Jesus’ head and mocking Him as king. The words of men against the Living Word of God, condemning Him to die a cruel, cursing death. It is a “Cursing death” because the Scriptures say, “(For he that is hanged is accursed of God;)” (Deut.21:23; Gal. 3:13).
What will you do with Jesus? Will you just account Him as a good man, a good teacher, a good example; or maybe a work of fiction? Your indecision about Jesus has eternal consequences as well as the wrong decision. No decision is your decision. Choose Jesus as the God-Man who died for your sins, was buried carrying your sin away, and rose bodily from the grave and eternally lives. Trust Him with your life, and you too can live with Him.
-Tim A. Blankenship