As we continue The Redeemer Series, Jesus is being brought before Pilate for judgement. Remember that just a few short days ago, Jesus was being praised in the streets as He entered the city. Now, we will discover the power of false accusations and how it will impact the outcome.
False Accusations Made
As we begin Luke 23, all of the chief priests have brought Jesus to stand trial before Pilate. It doesn’t take them very long to state their accusations.
And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”Luke 23:2
What is remarkable about these accusations is that they are completely false. These false accusations are used as a tool to get Pilate to hear the case. If Jesus were doing these things, Pilate would definitely want to punish Him.
This is where we find satan using his favorite tools of lying and slander to bring the government against Jesus. By blackening the character of Jesus, satan is attempting to destroy His reputation and the work He has done.
When Pilate asks Jesus if He is the King of the Jews, Jesus’ reply is simple. He states, “You have said so.” (Luke 22:3). This confusing statement is basically Jesus saying that it is the priests that have said it and not Him. Pilate said to release Jesus because he found no fault in Him.
When the chief priests heard this, they appealed to Pilate by adding more accusations and saying, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” (Luke 23:5). Pilate then asked Jesus if he is Galilean. At this point, Pilate realized that this would fall under Herod’s jurisdiction and sent Jesus before Herod.
No Fault Found
Herod was excited to see Jesus and had been hoping he would meet Him. Herod was hoping to see Jesus perform a miracle. He asked Jesus many questions and Jesus gave him no answers. All this time, the chief priests were standing there accusing Jesus. Herod and the guard began ridiculing Jesus and mocking Him. They dressed Him in fine robes and sent Jesus back to Pilate.
Pilate called on the chief priests and told them that neither himself nor Herod had found any evidence that their accusations were true. Pilate said that Jesus has done nothing that deserved death. He told them that Jesus would be punished and released.
The Crowd Turns
Upon hearing this, the crowd cried for Jesus to be killed and for Barabbas, the murderer, to be released. Pilate appealed to the crowd and reminded them that Jesus had done nothing to be killed for. The crowd began to chant, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” and Pilate reluctantly gave in. Pilate released Barabbas and surrendered Jesus as they demanded.
The Sentence is Given
According to John 19, Pilate took Jesus and had Him beaten. The soldiers put a crown of thorns on Jesus head, put a purple robe on Him and declared Him King of the Jews. Then Pilate said to the crowd that Jesus would be coming out and again he said he found no fault against Him.
As soon as the chief priests saw Jesus, they cried “Crucify Him!” and the crowd joined in. Pilate refused and told the Jews to crucify Jesus because he found no basis for the death. The priests refused and then added another accusation that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
After this accusation, Pilate asked Jesus and He would not answer. Jesus finally said that Pilate held no power over Him except the power that is given by His Father. After this Pilate asked the priests why they wanted to kill their King. As they continued to cry for Jesus’ crucifiction, Pilate sentenced Jesus to death.
The soldiers took Jesus and put the cross on His back and led Him through the streets of Jerusalem. They led him to Golgotha and hung him on the cross. From noon until three, the sky was dark as Jesus hung on the cross. Then Jesus cried out…
“Eli, Eli,[a]lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)Matthew 27:46
When Jesus cried out again, His spirit left Him. At that moment there was large an earthquake. Even one of the guards now believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
Jesus was buried in a tomb and the women that had watched Him die left to prepare the spices to anoint the body.
The thing that stands out to me the most in this part of the story is how far the chief priests were willing to go to have Jesus killed. There are several lessons to be learned but I want to focus on two of them.
1. False Accusations are Hurtful
When you bear false witness or make false accusations against someone, it can ruin lives. In this case, Jesus was killed because of the false accusations given by the priests. But the same is true for our lives today.
If you make a false accusation against someone at work, they could lose their job. A false statement made against a friend’s spouse could lead to divorce. The list could go on and on. So, the lesson here is if you are going to accuse someone, it is best if you have hard proof that you are making a correct statement.
In fact, this is one of the Ten Commandments given in Exodus.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.Exodus 20:16
So to make a false accusation against someone is a sin against God.
2. Don’t Follow the Crowd
Just a few days before, the Jews had declared Jesus as the Messiah. Now, at the leading of their chief priests, they were crying for Him to be crucified. The more Pilate refused to put Jesus to death, the louder their cries became.
It is ironic that Jesus was being accused of inciting the crowd when that is exactly what the chief priests were doing. The fervor of the priests worked up the crowd to a point of near riot. They were crying for Jesus’ death over that of a murderer.
This is a warning that we should stand against the crowd. Since a crowd of people can be incited to excitement or to violence, it is best not to follow the crowd but to stand on our own convictions.
As we have been learning about the last days of Jesus’ life in The Redeemer Series, it has been great to learn some ways to apply some lessons from each part of the story. As we continue in Part 4, we will learn about our risen Lord.