Study 8 WITH PILATE IN THE JUDGMENT HALL
OUR LORD’S INTERVIEWS
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Matthew 27:1-2 and 11-26)
We have the record here of Jesus’ interview with Pontius Pilate, and in verse 26 we read that “he (Pontius Pilate) released Barabbas to them. But he…handed him (Jesus) over to be crucified.” Pilate is the hard-headed, hard-hearted Governor of Judea and representative of the great Caesar. He has upon his hands for trial a Man whom he is convinced is innocent, has been falsely accused, and concerning whom he has to pronounce a verdict. He has tried to shift the responsibility, first by sending Him to Herod, and then by suggesting the release of Barabbas. Now Jesus is back again and Pilate is faced with an enormous decision; the voice of conscience is bearing down on him. He stands before that great crowd who a few moments ago were crying, “Take him away! Crucify Him!” (John 19:15), and he publicly washes his hands in water saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood…It is your responsibility” (Matthew 27:24). What a dramatic scene this is, but notice the spiritual significance. Surely it speaks of the attitude of men and women towards the Lord Jesus Christ all through the ages. We shall consider here that it was Pilate who rejected and who crucified the Lord Jesus. It is true, of course, that He was “the Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 13:8); and there was a sense in which He had to die (Matthew 16:21). Judas betrayed Him (Luke 22:47-48); the soldiers arrested Him and later nailed Him upon the Cross (Luke 22:54); the Jews were responsible for His death (1 Corinthians 2:8); but it was Pontius Pilate who delivered Him to be crucified. Now look up Hebrews 6:6. This surely means that those people who had an opportunity to accept Christ but who have rejected Him are in the same position as Pilate. They share his guilt in rejecting the Saviour. We must consider, then, in which respect these people are like Pilate.
1. Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus although he had opportunities to do otherwise.
Few men have had such a unique opportunity of welcoming Christ into their heart and life. Many times Pilate was faced with Jesus, and he recognised who He was. He had the opportunity, but instead he delivered Him to be crucified. How many people there are who have neglected the opportunity and they have refused and rejected Him! The tragedy is that life has now become complex and they wonder whether they can ever break themselves away from the things that hold them and bind them. It is always most solemn to turn down an opportunity to receive the Lord Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Look up Hebrews 3:7 and 12:25; and compare Hebrews 2:3.
2. Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus knowing full well that he was doing wrong.
He did not reject Him in ignorance – he was convinced of His innocence – look up Luke 23:4. More than that, Pilate believed Jesus was King of the Jews (John 19:15, 19-22). How solemn to believe Jesus is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, and yet to reject Him.
3. Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus although he was warned not to do so.
Legend tells us that after Pilate committed suicide in AD 36, his wife became a Christian, but at this time there is no indication that she was one. Then, she had a dream and it seemed as though God spoke to her. She saw and recognised the awful deed her husband was soon to commit and sent an urgent message to him (Matthew 27:19). Sadly Pilate still rejected the Lord Jesus.
4. Pontius Pilate thought that in rejecting Jesus he had got rid of Him.
The Gospels tell us that Pilate tried to escape his responsibility by sending Jesus to the Jews for trial, and then to Herod. Then he thought, ‘If I flog Him I will satisfy the crowd’, but that would not do, so he offered to release Him. Finally Jesus was delivered to be crucified, even though Pilate knew it would be a sin against God, against his soul, against justice and against his wife. It is the same with every unconverted person – you cannot evade the responsibility. You must do something with Jesus, who said – Matthew 12:30.
5. Pontius Pilate rejected the Lord Jesus for unworthy reasons.
What motivated Pilate? (1) Love of position. It is hard for a man who is in the public eye suddenly to be converted, to become like a little child (Matthew 18:3), and perhaps be scorned and misunderstood. (2) Fear of man. Pilate lacked the courage of his convictions – look up Proverbs 29:25!
6. Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus and he hated himself for doing it.
Surely Matthew 27:27-32 indicates this. As Pilate stood away and viewed the Saviour in His humiliation, he must have said, ‘I am responsible for all that; I could have prevented it, but I did not do so.’ He hated himself, just as every man who is not a Christian will hate himself because he has had anything at all to do with the crowd who cried out, “Take him away! Crucify Him!”
7. Pontius Pilate rejected Jesus and in doing so he sealed his doom.
Not so very long after this incident Pilate was removed from Jerusalem, and in AD 36 he committed suicide. Anyone who “crucifies Christ afresh” seals his own doom – look up John 3:18 and 36.
Just as surely as Jesus had an interview with Pilate in the Judgment Hall, so now He has an interview with you. Do you crown Him or crucify Him? Do you accept Him or reject Him?