John 18:28 – 19:16 (The Message)

They led Jesus then from Caiaphas to the Roman governor’s palace.  It was early morning.  They themselves didn’t enter the palace because they didn’t want to be disqualified from eating the Passover.  So Pilate came out to them and spoke. “What charge do you bring against this man?”

They said, “If he hadn’t been doing something evil, do you think we’d be here bothering you?”

Pilate said, “You take him. Judge him by your law.”

The Jews said, “We’re not allowed to kill anyone.” (This would confirm Jesus’ word indicating the way he would die.)

Pilate went back into the palace and called for Jesus.  He said, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?”

Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own, or did others tell you this about me?”

Pilate said, “Do I look like a Jew? Your people and your high priests turned you over to me. What did you do?”

My kingdom, “Jesus said, “doesn’t consist of what you see around you.  If it did, my followers would fight so that I wouldn’t be handed over to the Jews.  But I’m not that kind of king, not the world’s kind of king.”

Then Pilate said, “So, are you a king or not?”

Jesus answered, “You tell me, because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth.  Everyone who cares for truth, who has any felling for the truth, recognizes my voice.”

Pilate said, “What is truth?”

Then he went back out to the Jews and told them, “I find nothing wrong in this man.  It’s your custom that I pardon one prisoner at Passover.  Do you want me to pardon the ‘King of the Jews’????”

They shouted back,  “Not this one, but Barabbas!”  Barabbas was a Jewish freedom fighter.

So Pilate took Jesus and had him whipped.  The soldiers, having braided a crown from thorns, set it on his head, threw a purple robe over him, and approached him with,  “Hail, King of the Jews!”  Then they greeted him with slaps in the face.

Pilate went back out again and said to them,  “I present him to you, but I want you to know that I do not find him guilty of any crime.”  Just then Jesus came out wearing the thorn crown and purple robe.

Pilate announced, “Here he is: the Man.”

When the high priests and the and police saw him, they shouted in a frenzy, “Crucify! Crucify!”

Pilate told them,  “You take him.  You crucify him.  I find nothing wrong with him.”

The Jews answered, “We have a law, and by that law he must die because he claimed to be the Son Of God.”

When Pilate heard this, he became even more scared.  He went back into the palace and said to Jesus,  “Where did you come from?”

Jesus gave no answer.

Pilate said, “You won’t talk?  Don’t you know that I have the authority to pardon you, and the authority to  — crucify you?”

Jesus said, “You haven’t a shred of authority over me except what has been given you from heaven.  That’s why the one who betrayed me to you has committed a far greater fault.”

At this, Pilate tried his best to pardon him, but the Jews shouted him down:  “If you pardon this man, you’re no friend of Cesar’s. Anyone setting himself up as ‘king’ defies Caesar.”

When Pilate heard those words, he led Jesus outside.  He sat down at the judgment seat in the area designated Stone Court (In Hebrew, Gabbatha).  It was the preparation day for Passover.  The hour was noon.  Pilate said to the Jews,  “here is your king.”

They shouted back, “Kill him! Kill him! Crucify him!”

Pilate said, “I am to crucify your king?”

The high priests answered, “We have no king except Caesar.”

Pilate caved in to their demand.  He turned him over to be crucified.

Before the Resurrection comes Friday

One of the most significant experiences of the Lenten/Easter time for me is Good Friday and especially our Good Friday service when we remember how Christ was betrayed into the hands of the chief priests and the Romans to be crucified — to sacrifice his precious life for each of us so that our sins will be removed and remembered no more and we can come into a right relationship with God the Father and Jesus our savior.

Good Friday reminds me of how sometimes I have been just like those who betrayed Jesus into the hands of the Romans, letting the things of this world (possessions, money, job, and relationships, what people think) become more important than following Christ, and letting him be Lord over every aspect of my life.

All of us love Easter Sunday – it’s a glorious day for us to celebrate and remember how Jesus rose from the grave and ascended into heaven to give us the promise of eternal life with Him.  But for me, an important part of getting to Easter Morning is remembering and walking through the Good Friday experience of the betrayal of Jesus, His suffering, the denial of His closest followers, and His eventual crucifixion.

Prayer:  Lord, we remember today the unbelievable sacrifice you made for each one of us.  Help us to order our lives so that you are Lord over all we think, all we do and all that we say today and every day. We give you our praise and thanks as we look forward to Easter Morning.  Amen.  

Kent Heltne

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