St. Edmund's Church, Crickhowell

Encounters with Jesus -

Pontius Pilate



Jesus is brought before Pilate for trial, which the Jewish authorities must have thought would have been a foregone conclusion. Yet as Pilate found out, things / people are not always what they seem.


Have we ever had a conversation, or an interview, that has gone completely differently to what we expected - as happened to Pilate when Jesus was brought before him for 'trial' ?


Read Mark 15: 1 -11.


Stuart Blanch asked this important question - "What do we know about this man, who held in his hands for a few moments on a cold Friday morning the fate of all humanity?"

  1. Pilate was appointed procurator (governor) of Judaea in 26 AD, a post he held for 10 years. This was rather longer than anyone else (during the first century, there were 19 procurators in total in less than a hundred years!), although his time in office was marred by riots and bloodshed - indeed, the Jewish writer Philo called him 'inflexible, merciless and obstinate'. How does this assessment fit with Mark's account of this meeting between Pilate and Jesus ?
  2. Stuart Blanch suggests that Pilate colluded with Caiaphas, the two probably having met the night before to set this 'trial' up - although when Pilate actually met Jesus, he had second thoughts. Have we ever made our minds up about someone on the basis of what others have told us, only to find that a face to face meeting leaves us with second thoughts ?
  3. Pilate wondered / was amazed at Jesus (v.5). Do we ever wonder, or find ourselves amazed at some of the ways in which the Lord meets us or deals with us in our lives ?
  4. Pilate tried to get Jesus off the hook (v.9), but when the crowd turned ugly (v. 13) he handed Jesus over for crucifixion without formally convicting him (v. 15). Does this indicate a weak character, or a man doing what he had to in order to hold on to his job, or just someone caught up in forces beyond his control ?

King of the Jews

Jesus as the promised 'Messiah' or 'Christ' is a recurring theme throughout Mark's Gospel. The repeated use of 'King of the Jews' (vv.2, 9, 12; then vv. 18, 26) backs this up (see v.32). There seems to be an ironic contrast between the Jewish leaders and Pilate. The religious leaders, expecting a promised Messiah, reject Jesus while the pagan Pilate seems to see him for who he really is - and still lets him be crucified !

  1. Well-entrenched official religions face the danger of distorting, ignoring, or rejecting the truth because it may be too threatening. Can we see examples of this in our own day ?
  2. The secular authority suppressed the truth even though it recognised it. Can we see examples of this as well in today's world ?

Delivered / Handed over

In Mark's account of Jesus' passion one word is used repeatedly - the Greek word translated as 'deliver' or 'hand over'. As Stuart Blanch says, "it occurs ten times, and it is no accident. Judas betrayed or handed over Jesus to the High Priests. The High Priests delivered or handed over Jesus to Pilate. Pilate delivers or hands over Jesus to crucifixion..." The use of this word ties in with Isaiah's 'suffering servant' and in particular with the Greek OT (Septuagint) version of Isaiah 53:12, which states 'He bore the sins of many and was delivered because of their iniquities'.

  1. Mark is following Jesus' own interpretation (see Mark 10:45) in linking Isaiah 53 to the passion. How do we understand the statement that Jesus 'bore the sins of many' on the Cross ?
  2. Isaiah 53: 10 states 'Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him'. How do we view that verse, given that we are dealing with a 'mystery' (in the truest sense) here ?


Read Isaiah 53 together. Ponder the mystery of the Cross and give thanks for the salvation won for us there.


9/10   BL   Last updated 22.11.2004