St. Edmund's Church, Crickhowell
Encounters with Jesus -
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?"
- 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 ?
- 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 ?
- 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 ?
- 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 !
- 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 ?
- 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'.
- 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 ?
- 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.
Last updated 22.11.2004