Day 24 – Jesus’ enemies get what they want

Bible reading: Luke 23:1–5, 13–25

Pilate asks Jesus questions

1 All the people at the meeting stood up to leave. They took Jesus to stand in front of Pilate. 2 Then they all started to tell Pilate that Jesus had done bad things. They said, ‘We found this man when he was telling our people wrong things. He said that we must not pay taxes to the Roman government. He also said that he himself is the Messiah, that is, a king.’

23:1Pontius Pilate ruled over this part of the land that the Romans ruled. He ruled over Jerusalem.

3 Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ Jesus replied, ‘You have said it.’

4 Pilate then said to the leaders of the priests and to all the crowd of people, ‘I cannot find anything that this man has done which is wrong.’ 5 But they continued to speak strongly to him. They said, ‘He makes the people angry and ready to fight against the government. He has taught these bad things everywhere in Judea. He started in Galilee and now he has come to Jerusalem.’

Luke 23:1-5 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Pilate and the Jewish leaders argue about Jesus

13 Pilate then told the leaders of the priests, the leaders of the Jews and the people to come back to him. 14 He said to them, ‘You brought this man to me. You said that he was causing the people to fight against their rulers. Listen! I have asked him some questions in front of you. But I have not found that he has done anything wrong. 15 Herod also did not find that he had done anything wrong. That is why he has sent him back to me. You can see this. He has not done anything bad that means he ought to die. 16 So I will just punish him. I will order a soldier to hit him with whips. Then I will let him go.’

[ 17 Pilate usually let one person go free out of the prison at Passover time.]

23:17Verse 17 is not in many copies of Luke.

18 But the crowd all shouted together, ‘Take this man away and kill him! We want Barabbas to go free.’

19 Barabbas had fought against the Roman rulers in Jerusalem. He had also killed somebody. That is why the rulers had put him in prison. 20 But Pilate still wanted to let Jesus go. So, he spoke to the crowd again. 21 But they continued to shout. They were shouting, ‘Kill him on a cross, kill him on a cross.’

23:21Roman rulers fixed bad people to a big cross made out of wood, to kill them.

22 Pilate asked them the same question for the third time. ‘Why should I kill him? What wrong things has he done? You want me to say that he should die. But I have not found anything wrong that would cause me to say that. So, I will punish him. I will order my soldiers to hit him with a whip. Then I will let him go.’

23 But they continued to shout at Pilate, ‘Kill him on a cross.’ They continued to shout very much. So, in the end, 24 Pilate did what they wanted. 25 They had asked Pilate to let Barabbas go free out of the prison. He was the man that had caused the Jewish people to fight against the Roman rulers. He had also killed somebody. He was the man that Pilate let go free. As for Jesus, Pilate ordered the soldiers to take him away. He let the people do to him what they wanted.

Luke 23:13-25 EasyEnglish Bible (EASY)

Reflection

The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead. But they could do nothing because the Roman authorities did not allow them to use the death penalty. So they had to take him to Pilate, the Roman governor. They lied, saying Jesus had opposed paying taxes to Rome. This was quite untrue. He had said, ‘Pay Caesar what he is owed. Pay God what belongs to him.’

The interview with Pilate must have taken some time. Pilate will have seen that Jesus was not a threat to their politics. So he declared him to be innocent.

The Jewish leaders tried again. Pilate again replied, ‘I consider him not guilty of the crime of which you have accused him.’ Clearly Pilate, with his sense of Roman justice, wanted Jesus released.

But the priests encouraged the angry crowd to shout for his death, ‘Crucify him! crucify him!’ And because of this angry crowd’s persistent demands, Pilate finally agreed. He had made several big mistakes in his job ruling this difficult province of Judea. So he could not risk a bad report about him going to the emperor again, and probably causing him to lose his job.

So he condemned a man he knew to be innocent to the most terrible death. Morals often disappear when you want to avoid problems for yourself!