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. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed. 6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
1. The religious leaders could not put Jesus to death in Jerusalem, because Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, was the only one who could condemn someone to death there. Why do you think the religious leaders might have been very happy about that?
2. As the representative of Tiberius Caesar, do you think Pontius Pilate found it amusing to ask Jesus if He were the King of the Jews? Do you ever ask Jesus if He is really the King? Is there any part of your life that is questioning Jesus’ Kingship?
3. Why do you think Pilate was amazed that Jesus didn’t answer his questions? Who do you know that is so very like Pilate when it comes to questioning Jesus? How are you like that? Really?
4. Did you remember that Barabbas’ name means in Aramaic “son of the father?” Think about how mind-boggling it is that Pilate allows the crowd to choose. How contemporary is this scene today?
5. What is so pathetic about Pilate’s playing to the crowd?
6. How is your life shouting “Crucify him?” Don’t say so fast that you would never do that.
7. How could it be said that Jesus is in control of this whole scene? How not?
8. If you were put on trial as a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you today?
9. Are you coming to worship at St. Matthew’s at noon today? It’s only 30 minutes. Why or why not?
Come, Holy Spirit, and show me how easily I question Jesus about things I do not and cannot understand. Let me see how very like Pontius Pilate I am and how much I fit in with the crowd that condemned Jesus to death. Deliver me from the evil that always lurks in my heart, mind, soul, and body. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Place 43 pennies, nickels, or dimes in a large bowl with the intent to provide farm animals to help the global poor support their families.
Pastor Samuel D. Zumwalt, STS
St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church
Wilmington, North Carolina
The Daily Readings are from English Standard Version, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers