Jesus is Brought Before Pilate

Format for Holy Hour

Scripture Reading: Prayerfully read some or all of the following passages:

Matthew 27:1–23
Mark 15:1–15
Luke 23:1–5
John 18:28–38

Context: Jesus appears before Pilate twice, but only Luke’s Gospel reveals that Pilate sent Jesus to Herod before arriving at his final judgment of death. The other Gospels present the trial of Jesus before Pilate as one continuous trial. However, they all present Pilate’s initial judgment of “not guilty” and then, after mounting pressure, his reluctant judgment of death.

In this meditation, focus especially upon the first judgment of Pilate in which he arrives at Jesus’ innocence. Pilate is not concerned about this religious squabble brought to him, and he seems to understand that there is something righteous about Jesus, partly on account of the dream his wife had about Jesus (see Matthew 27:19).

Pilate was the Roman Governor of Judea and under the authority of the Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus. Pilate was known to be a harsh ruler and sought to keep peace by force. He feared an insurrection if he let Jesus go; so even though he believed in Jesus’ innocence, he was not willing to accept the consequences of an innocent verdict.

Pilate’s questioning of Jesus focused on the accusation that Jesus considered himself a king, thus challenging his authority and that of the Emperor.

Reflection: Ponder the scene prayerfully using the following points if useful.

  • This first trial took place early in the morning after Jesus had spent the night in confinement by the Jewish authorities. Since the Jews could not execute someone, they brought Him to the Roman governor, requesting the sentence of death. They made the claim that Jesus was trying to make Himself king and was a threat to the Emperor. 
  • Imagine the scene. Consider the deadly intent of the religious leaders and crowds. Consider also their trickery and manipulation of the truth to accomplish their end.
  • Read the various versions of Jesus being questioned by Pilate. Notice the indifference of Pilate toward this religious dispute.
  • Reflect also on Jesus’ silence and short answers to Pilate. He does not defend Himself but stands there ready to be condemned.
  • In John 18:38, Pilate says to Jesus, “What is truth?” This is in response to Jesus saying that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth. Ponder that response of Pilate in your own life. What is truth? How do you answer that question?
  • Pilate tries to release Jesus but is met with resistance. So he brings out the criminal Barabbas and gives the Jews a choice on who Pilate should release: Jesus or this known criminal. Consider the interior thinking of Pilate as he works through this “political” issue.
  • Look at the situation also from the perspective of Barabbas. Reflect upon what he must have thought as people chose him over Jesus for release.

Featured Image: Jesus Before Pilate, First Interview, Tissot

Introduction to Meditations for Lent

  1. Life Decisions and Resolutions
  2. Palm Sunday
  3. Leading up to Holy Thursday
  4. Last Supper
  5. Agony in the Garden
  6. Jesus is Arrested and Brought Before Annas
  7. Jesus is Brought Before Caiaphas
  8. Jesus is Brought Before Pilate
  9. Jesus is Brought Before Herod
  10. Second Trial by Pilate
  11. Jesus Carries His Cross and is Crucified
  12. Jesus Speaks From the Cross
  13. Jesus Dies on the Cross
  14. Jesus’ Body in the Arms of His Mother
  15. Jesus is Buried
  16. Holy Saturday

Table of Contents

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