The Use of Power

MEMORY SELECTION: “There is no power but of God.” —Romans 13:1


IN OUR last lesson we traced the beginning of events that finally led to our Lord’s crucifixion. We noted that the depraved characteristics of jealousy and selfishness among the high priests of Israel were a direct factor in Jesus’ betrayal. That these religious leaders, especially Caiaphas and Annas, pursued the death of the Messiah is affirmed throughout the Gospels.

The scriptural account for this lesson continues to trace the events as they unfolded. John does not report on what occurred when Jesus appeared before Caiaphas but goes on to tell us what happened when he was taken before Pilate by the Jewish authorities.

“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, and said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.”—John 19:1-3

Those people who were quite willing to demand the death of the Messiah were, on the other hand, unwilling to defile themselves ritually by entering the judgment hall. When Pilate sought an answer concerning the charges against Jesus, their insolent reply was that our Lord must have done something evil, else they would not have brought him there. “Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him.”—vs. 4

When Pilate suggested that the Jews judge Jesus themselves, their response was that they did not have the authority to carry out the penalty which they sought—which was, of course, death. “Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.”—vss. 5-7

Pilate showed concern about the political implications surrounding Jesus’ ministry. When he had asked the Master about his claim of being a king of the Jews, our Lord had explained that he had no plan to take control of Rome. He stated that his kingdom was not of this world.—John 18:33,36

When Pilate left the judgment hall and told the Jews that he was bringing Jesus out to them, he declared our Lord’s innocence to them. He sought a way to escape the matter of passing sentence of death upon Jesus. He apparently hoped that, by showing the religious leaders the Master had been punished and mocked, he would satisfy their demands. However, they were not satisfied: “But the Jews cried out saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.—19:12

We note that when Pilate insisted that he could find no fault with the Master, the religious leaders shifted their tactics. They reasoned that if Pilate could find no political crime on which to convict Jesus, then they would charge him with violation of their religious laws. Because Jesus “has made himself the Son of God,” then he must be condemned accordingly. Pilate became fearful, because he did not want to stir up religious trouble among the Jews.

Our Lord knew that the Heavenly Father was in control of all that was to happen to him. Indeed, he was not a helpless victim of the powers of evil but was merely carrying out the will of God for the necessary sacrifice for sin—the giving of his own perfect life as the corresponding price for the perfect life of Adam, thus providing satisfaction for the sin of the whole world of mankind.

Jesus had perfect confidence in the power of the Most High God on his behalf. That faith was severely tested when Pilate once again tried in vain to release the Messiah. He spoke unto the religious leaders of Israel, “Behold your king! But [the Jews] cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (vss. 14,15) Our Lord Jesus was therefore handed over to be crucified “because he made himself the Son of God.”

Dawn Bible Students Association
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