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God’s Word for You

Luke 23:5-7 He stirs up the people

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, June 4, 2019

5 But they kept insisting, “He stirs up the people. He teaches throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee all the way here.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether 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 during those days.

The Sanhedrin’s opinion of Pilate seems to have been that, as a Roman and a Gentile, he would have no compunction about killing Jesus for them. They could not legally put Jesus to death, because Rome reserved the right to execute criminals for itself. Perhaps there was a concern that certain hyper-nationalistic Jews such as the Zealots would invent false charges against men who supported Rome and execute them, shifting the balance of power. The Sanhedrin kept tossing out irrelevant charges against Jesus, such as, “He stirs up all the people.” Did they think Pilate would be persuaded by that? They themselves did the same thing. Neither Jesus nor Pilate took any of these charges seriously. Jesus didn’t defend himself, but neither did Pilate pursue any of them.

Yet, having heard the verdict, the Sanhedrin kept on insisting that Pilate change his mind. In what courtroom does a judge render a verdict only to have the plaintiff whine and complain that things didn’t go his way? Wouldn’t any judge today have thrown the Sanhedrin out, or even have had them jailed or fined for contempt? It’s a testimony for us to see just how much power these men actually held in Judea at this time. Pilate had the responsibility, but he barely held enough real authority to accomplish anything without inciting a riot. What the Sanhedrin wanted was for him to give in have Jesus executed. Having gone this far, they weren’t willing to turn back.

The Sanhedrin failed to realize that Gentiles and unbelievers are not irrational, lawless monsters. An unbeliever still has a conscience, and an unbeliever is still a soul which God wants to save. Pilate didn’t want to give in to their pressure because, as he already stated, he didn’t find that Jesus had done anything illegal in any way. How was Jesus different from any other rabbi in Israel? From the Roman perspective, Jesus was far less troublesome because he didn’t incite anyone against Rome.

Later, Pilate would mistreat Jesus and have him beaten, probably hoping that the Sanhedrin would think that it was enough and let him go. But now he found another way out. King Herod (really, tetrarch) was also in Jerusalem for the Passover, and Galilee was his jurisdiction. If he could pass Jesus over the Herod, then perhaps the matter could be solved in another way. But Pilate had already given his judgment. Any additional trial should have been impossible. By sending Jesus to Herod, Pilate was effectively re-opening the case and letting other opinions rule. Once this was done, there could be no other outcome other than the one the Sanhedrin wanted. Jesus’ silence was not a bow to their will, but to the will of his Father. It was not for their sakes, but for the sake of the whole world.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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