From Heaven With Love


Chapter 77—Christ's Trial Before the Roman Governor

This chapter is based on Matthew 27:2, 11-31; Mark 15:1-20; Luke 23:1-25; John 18:28-40; 19:1-16.

In the judgment hall of Pilate, the Roman governor, Christ stood bound as a prisoner, about Him the guard of soldiers. The hall was fast filling with spectators. Just outside were the judges of the Sanhedrin, priests, rulers, and the mob. HLv 481.1

After condemning Jesus, the Sanhedrin had come to Pilate to have the sentence confirmed and executed. But these Jewish officials would not enter the Roman judgment hall. According to their ceremonial law they would be defiled thereby and prevented from taking part in the Passover. They did not see that murderous hatred had defiled their hearts. They did not see that since they had rejected Christ, the real Passover Lamb, the great feast had for them lost its significance. HLv 481.2

Pilate looked on the Saviour with no friendly eyes. Called from his bedroom in haste, he determined to do his work as quickly as possible. Assuming his severest expression, he turned to see what kind of man he had to examine. HLv 481.3

His gaze rested searchingly on Jesus. He had to deal with all kinds of criminals, but never had a man of such goodness and nobility been brought before him. On His face he saw no sign of guilt, no fear, no boldness or defiance. He saw a man whose countenance bore the signature of heaven. HLv 481.4

Pilate's better nature was roused. His wife had told him something of the wonderful deeds performed by the Galilean prophet, who cured the sick and raised the dead. He recalled rumors that he had heard from several sources. He demanded of the Jews their charges against the prisoner. Who is this Man, and why have you brought Him? They answered that He was a deceiver called Jesus of Nazareth. HLv 481.5

Again Pilate asked, “What accusation bring ye against this Man?” The priests did not answer his question, but in irritation said, “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.” When the Sanhedrin brings to you a man it deems worthy of death, is there need to ask for an accusation against him? They hoped to lead Pilate to accede to their request without going through many preliminaries. HLv 482.1

Before this, Pilate had hastily condemned to death men not worthy of death. In his estimation, whether a prisoner was innocent or guilty was of no special consequence. The priests hoped that Pilate would now inflict the death penalty on Jesus without giving Him a hearing. HLv 482.2

But something in the prisoner held Pilate back. He dared not do it. He remembered how Jesus had raised Lazarus, a man that had been dead four days; and he determined to know the charges against Him and whether they could be proved. HLv 482.3

If your judgment is sufficient, he said, why bring the prisoner to me? “Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law.” The priests said they had already passed sentence on Him, but they must have Pilate's sentence to render their condemnation valid. What is your sentence? Pilate asked. Death, they answered. They asked Pilate to enforce their sentence; they would take the responsibility of the result. Weak though he was in moral power, Pilate refused to condemn Jesus until a charge had been brought against Him. HLv 482.4

The priests were in a dilemma. They must not allow it to appear that Christ had been arrested on religious grounds, for this would have no weight with Pilate. They must make it appear that Jesus was a political offender. The Romans were constantly on the watch to repress everything that could lead to an outbreak. HLv 482.5

In their extremity the priests called false witnesses. “And they began to accuse Him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a King.” Three charges, each without foundation. The priests knew this but were willing to commit perjury. HLv 483.1