Luke 23:1-5-Jesus is brought before Pilate and their accusations against Him are presented. Their indictment was not of a religious nature, but political. Pilate would not be concerned with petty theological disagreements among the Jews. But, he would be very interested in any type of political intrigue or strategy that would threaten Rome; and even more so, would threaten his personal status with Rome. So, they attempt to make Jesus appear to be a traitor of the Roman Empire and to have conspired to establish Himself as king.
Matthew (26:57-58) and Mark (14:53,55) mention a preliminary hearing held at night, but the Sanhedrin (70 or 72 elders and teachers of the nation) could not legally convene at night, so this verdict was made official as soon as it was day. Since, however, the Sanhedrin had no power to carry out a capital sentence, the case had to be remanded to Pilate, senior representative of the Roman government in Judea.
(Ryrie Study Bible, Luke 22:66)
Pilate asks, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus responds, “It is as you say.” Yet, Pilate says that he finds nothing guilty about Him. Even this admission by Jesus was no valid threat to Rome. He had said He was the king of the Jews…not the Romans. Who cares about such a laughable claim? It would not be worth the effort, or the potential unrest among the general Jewish populace to pursue such a pitiful assertion. But Pilate is in something of a dilemma. Obviously, the Jewish leaders were not going to let this go without receiving what they were demanding. He knew that they were driven by jealousy. But word on the street was that Jesus was very popular with the common people. The Jewish leaders continue to press their case. They now accuse Jesus of stirring the people up to rebellion…as far as Galilee.
Luke 23:6-12-The moment that Pilate hears the word “Galilee,” he sees an opportunity to shift the responsibility for the decision about Jesus away from himself. Herod Antipas was the tetrarch of Galilee (the area ruler). While he was of Jewish descent, he was not an active adherent of the Jewish religion. However, he did come to Jerusalem for major Jewish feasts. It was good for public relations. He was in Jerusalem at this time for the Passover.
For information on Herod see:
Pilate decides to send Jesus to Herod…because Galilee was in his jurisdiction. By doing so, Pilate might also win some favor in Herod’s eyes. You never can tell when you may need a political ally. Initially, Herod was pleased. He thought of Jesus as some kind of traveling magic show and wanted to see Him perform a trick. But Jesus would do no such thing. Herod questioned Jesus but learned nothing of consequence…even though the religious leaders were vigorously presenting their accusations to him. Herod and his soldiers ridiculed Jesus by dressing Him in a robe (mocking Him as a bogus king). Then he sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate probably laughed out loud when he heard what Herod had done. Up until that time they disliked each other. But this occasion was cause for them to become friends.
Luke 23:13-25-Pilate tells the religious leaders that neither he, nor Herod have found any guilt in Jesus regarding the charges of political insurrection that they have made. Verse 17 mentions that in order to incur the favor of the people it had become a common practice for Pilate to release a prisoner who was popular among them at this time of the year. Trying to placate the anger of His accusers, Pilate says that he is going to punish Jesus. But, to satisfy the people who support Jesus, Pilate says that after he has punished Him, he will release Him. But this did not work. Instead, they call out for him to release a man named “Barabas”…a convicted insurrectionist. The religious leaders were so insistent that Jesus should die that Pilate was afraid of a riot. Finally, he caved in to their demands and pronounced the death sentence on Jesus. He also released Barabas. Without any hesitation, the Jewish leaders took Jesus to be crucified. Along the way, they forced another man (Simon, from Cyrene) to carry His cross.
Prayer: Lord, not everyone is convinced or persuaded by what is true…they either just don’t understand, don’t agree, or have an agenda that they are more committed to. Please help me to stand strong for what is true whether others are in agreement with it, or not.