Good Friday, April 22
Read: Matthew 27:1–56
Rome would not allow the Jews to execute their criminals, so the religious authorities were forced to bring their prisoner to Pontius Pilate, the governor of their region from AD 27–37. Jesus’ Roman trials, like his Jewish ordeal, occurred in three phases.
First he stood trial before Pilate. The Sanhedrin knew that the Romans would not care about their conviction for blasphemy, so they brought three different charges against Jesus: “’We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king” (Luke 23:2).
Pilate would already have known if Jesus had been subverting the nation or opposed payment of taxes, but the charge of claiming to be a “king” was extremely serious. Sedition was the unpardonable sin against Rome. So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” (John 18:33). Our Lord explained that “my kingdom is not of this world” (v. 36), so that he was no threat to Pilate or the Romans. With this reply, Pilate wanted to release Jesus but feared a backlash from the religious authorities. When he learned that Jesus was from Galilee, he thought he had a solution: he sent him to Herod Antipas, his enemy (Luke 23:12). But Herod could find nothing with which to charge Jesus, so he returned him to Pilate.
At this third phase, Pilate tried again to release Jesus. He offered the crowds an opportunity to choose him over Barabbas, a notorious criminal, but the authorities prompted the crowds to demand Barabbas’ release instead. So Pilate collapsed beneath their pressure and finally condemned Jesus to be crucified (John 19:16).
It is important that we understand Jesus’ innocence. The Roman authorities repeatedly concluded that he had committed no crime. If he had, his death would have paid a penalty owed by his sins and could have no effect for us. Because he was the sinless “Lamb of God,” he could take away the sin
of the world (John 1:29).
For reflection
When did you make Jesus your Savior and King? Have you thanked him today for his amazing grace? http://www.godissues.org/pdf/Lenten_Devotional_2011.pdf


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