Powerlessness

Story

Now Jesus was handcuffed.  In this powerless state he was brought face to face with Pontius Pilate, the most powerful man in the whole country.  Pilate had the authority to release Jesus or to have him executed.  What he couldn’t do is get a straight answer out of him.  For some reason Jesus didn’t even want to defend himself.  Perhaps he knew that Pilate would never understand his message?  Perhaps he wanted to teach Pilate a lesson about the limits of his power?

In the end it turned out that Pilate, the most powerful man in the land, was more scared than Jesus, the prisoner in the dock. Under pressure from the crowd Pilate released a convicted murderer and sentenced Jesus to death.

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Mark 15: 1-5, 15

The chief priests with the elders and the scribes, that is, the whole Sanhedrin, held a council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He said to him in reply, “You say so.” The chief priests accused him of many things. Again Pilate questioned him, “Have you no answer? See how many things they accuse you of.” Jesus gave him no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. …

Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

Mark 15: 1-5, 15

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. …

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Mark 15: 1-5, 15

At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.

Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?” He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.

Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed. …

Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.

Mark 15: 1-5, 15

And as soon as it was morning the chief priests, with the elders and scribes, and the whole council held a consultation; and they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate wondered. …

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barab′bas; and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

Application

As Roman Governor, Pilate wielded huge power, and with a simple word could order Jesus’s release or execution. He used that power to play politics, and an innocent man was condemned whilst a guilty man was set free. When life is unfair to you, remember the injustice Jesus accepted on your behalf.

Questions

Who is the most powerful person you’ve ever met?  What did you say to them?

When you met them face to face, were you impressed?

In what ways are you powerful?

What do you think powerful people are most afraid of?

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