Can we resolve to be still in the presence of Christ long enough to feel his healing touch? Don’t rush away!
63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.
66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”
Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”
70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”
He replied, “You say that I am.”
71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”
23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 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.”
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.
13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” 
18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)
20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”
23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.
Pass the parcel
There is a ludicrous ‘pass the parcel’ feeling about this passage. Jesus appears before Caiaphas and is then delivered into the hands of the mocking soldiers. At daybreak he is questioned by the Sanhedrin who send him to Pilate, who in turn sends him to Herod. Eventually he is returned to Pilate. And here the music stops. Pilate has to make a decision. This powerless prisoner seems too hot to handle!
Failing to do right
So who is in charge? The Jewish leaders are lying through their teeth as they offer a variety of trumped-up charges; Herod is worried and baffled by Jesus; Pilate vacillates, consumed by his desire to hold on to power and in the end fails to do the right thing. The only ‘innocent’ person seems to be the villain, Barabbas!
Motives of our hearts
Who is in charge? The one on trial puts all around him under scrutiny. Jesus, the prisoner, turns judge as he stands in towering silence among his enemies. And such is his amazing grace that even those who did not care are blessed. Barabbas is set free and unlikely reconciliation breaks out between Pilate
and Herod. Still today Jesus stands before us and his eyes search out the motives of our hearts as he longs to mend and heal us. Will you allow him to do so?
As we open our lives to Jesus, nothing is overlooked yet everything can be forgiven. Such good news!
Jesus’s fate, and our salvation, were decided through four questions. First, ‘If you are the Messiah, … tell us’ (v 67). Jesus was and is the Messiah (Luke 24:26), but this question was solely designed to incriminate him with Rome. It did not deserve a direct answer. He was not the merely political messiah, sent for Israel’s liberation, that they had in mind. He was and is much more than political. Jesus replied with his preferred title, the Son of Man who will reign at God’s right hand (Dan 7:13,14; Ps 110:1). ‘From now on’ (see v 69) he, not they, will judge and rule, not just Israel, but all people. The cross was his pathway to ultimate authority.
They understood the implication and asked the second question: ‘Are you then the Son of God?’ (v 70). This echoes Jesus’ temptations at the start of his ministry, ‘If you are the Son of God … ’ (Luke 4:3,9), raising the question of how the Son was to fulfil his Father’s will. Jesus, however, faithfully fulfilled his Father’s calling, knowing it was the Father’s will that he should drain this cup of suffering (Luke 22:42).His reply implied ‘you have worked it out’, but they now had enough to send him to Pilate, who asked the third question, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ (23:3).
Jesus’ answer was indirect, but he was and is the ruler of the people of God. His sacrifice of himself on the cross would extend that ‘people’ to all nations. Pilate asked the final question: ‘What crime has this man committed?’ (v 22). God’s Son and our Messiah perfectly fulfilled his Father’s will as the innocent one who went to his death for us. The titles used in these questions and in Jesus’ answers reveal his identity, show the extent of the salvation he secured and make it possible.
In the light of these four questions, if you were interrogated about your faith, how would you explain the meaning of Jesus’ death in contemporary language?Graham Cray