Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Luke 23:1-2): What’s the deal with the different charges? Why are they not merely accusing Jesus of blasphemy?
A. They can’t do that and get Pilate to execute Him, so they have to make charges up and hope Pilate goes along with them, which Pilate does NOT appreciate. There’s an interesting article on the trials Jesus goes through (the legal ones) here: http://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/jesustrial.htm, and I’m going to quote for the author about what is going on here, because he summarizes it so well:
If they presented Jesus as a man convicted of blasphemy on the testimony of only two witnesses who did not agree, Pilate would reverse their verdict. If they presented Jesus as one convicted by his own confession, Pilate would set the verdict aside. And, of course, if they reported Jesus was convicted by unanimous verdict, Pilate would enter a verdict of acquittal. So the guilty priests presented Jesus to Pilate on a new charge they trumped up on the spot: treason against Caesar.
So that is why Jesus is accused of treason: it was the only way that they could get Pilate to convict Him.
Q. (Mark 15:2-5, Matthew 27:11-14, Luke 23:1-12): Why did Jesus retort, “You have said it.” Why didn’t He just say “yes?” And, why didn’t he simply answer the leaders questions instead of being silent?
A. I honestly don’t have a good answer to that. Jesus has gone to great lengths to not publicly declare (though never deny) that He is the Messiah, and this event and the “trial” before the Sanhedrin appears to be no exception. His answer strikes a middle ground between a blunt “yes” and a denial: note that both times He uses this phrase (which translates something like “your words not mine”), those asking the question treat His answer as a “yes” anyway.
Q. (John 18:30-31): So, it was against Jewish law to execute, so they handed Jesus over to the Romans so they could kill Him?
A. That’s about right.
Q. (Mark 15:6): The Romans have adopted the Passover? The Passover is a Jewish holiday, but the Roman governor has a tradition of releasing a prisoner?
A. No, the Romans had allowed the Jews to continue to observe Passover. The celebration would have been massive in the city, and there is an undercurrent in the story that is worth noting here: Pilate’s actions in turning Jesus over to be crucified are directly the result of his fear that the pilgrims visiting Jerusalem for Passover will riot or even revolt, and Pilate is doing his best to keep the peace. And I suspect in Pilate’s mind, even if he didn’t really want to kill Jesus, that it was worth killing one Jew in order to maintain control of hundreds of thousands of them.