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Pontius Pilate-Caesars Friend (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
The Truth Network Radio
September 6, 2022 6:00 am

Pontius Pilate-Caesars Friend (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 6, 2022 6:00 am

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He miscalculated. They weren't interested in mercy, kindness.

They wanted full-blown power. They were in Satan's care. It took this one time for Pilate to violate his conscience, to cause the shameful reputation that he has forever. He did violate his own conscience. He pronounced him innocent. When Jesus said that they had come for truth, what is Pilate's response?

What is truth? He'd become jaded. It would have been a Wednesday night that Jesus would have been shuffled through these kangaroo courts there in Jerusalem. There was Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest. There was Caiaphas. There was Herod Antipas, and then Pilate. Pilate had two separate audiences, and that was Pilate. Pilate was the father-in-law of the high priest.

There was Caiaphas. There was Herod Antipas. And then Pilate, Pilate had two separate audiences. They were interrupted by a visit with Herod, and then back to Pilate. Now, you could do a series on Pilate, the interactions, the things surrounding what took place on that night. Our text is found in the Gospel of John in the 19th chapter.

I'll condense part of the text, and then we'll go back and discuss various things that come out of it. But there in John 19, verses 12 and 13, then verse 16, we read, Again, the condensed account of Pilate's greatest mistake, the greatest mistake of his life. Now, our sources for the man Pilate, and there are those and have been those who lived to dispute the accuracy and authenticity of the Scripture.

Well, that's been the way it has been since Eden. There was no written Scripture, but there was the spoken word of God, and man knew it. But our sources for Pilate's existence are sevenfold.

There is the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And then there is Philo of Alexandria, a historian. There is Tatius, who briefly mentions Pilate. And then there is the Pilate stone, and that is a stone found at Caesarea Maritima, that is by the sea, that had his name on it.

When they found it in 1961, it had been demoted, it was being used as a step on a stairwell. But there the archaeologist, an Italian archaeologist, finds the stone and reads the inscription, realizes what it is, and it is to this day in the museum in Jerusalem. And I have seen the stone, and it just looks like a stone with stuff I can't read on it.

But that is the seventh witness. It's interesting, before that stone was found, or up till that point that stone was found, there were those that were saying, Pilate never existed. We have no record of him.

You have no record of him, then it must not be right. And then, of course, the archaeologists find the stone, and that argument went away. And he was governor in that area of Israel, in Judea, from 26 AD to 36 AD, about ten years. And he was recalled to Rome, and then drops out of history.

We don't know what happened to him after that. But on this particular night, the Jews are coming to Pilate, and they use their secret weapon. It was not their nuclear option. Their nuclear option would have been, if you don't crucify him, we'll kill him. They wouldn't have said that, but that's what they would have done.

And there are precedents for that, we'll get to in a moment. But the secret weapon is, if you do not kill him, you're not Caesar's friend. You know what that means, Pilate. When Caesar finds out you're not his friend, that's it for you. And Pilate knew that.

It's what they meant. And that is what brought about the end of the debate and the attempt at compromise that really began the end of it all, that accusation of his friendship with Caesar. In the book of Acts, for example, when the Apostle Paul was being brought up on charges also of causing a riot, of bringing a Gentile into the Jewish sector of the Temple Mount, while Paul was going through the processes of trial, we read in Acts 23 verse 12, And when it was day, some of the Jews banded together and bound themselves under an oath, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. Now there were more than 40 who had formed this conspiracy. They came to the chief priests and elders and said, We have bound ourselves under a great oath that we will eat nothing until we have killed Paul. And of course they sanctioned it. They rubber-stamped that right through. Yeah, that's what we were waiting for you.

What took you so long? And so my point is they, even though chronologically that takes place after Christ, not that much farther along, had Pilate not crucified him, the Jews would have killed him. But of course, God the Father was in control of all of this.

These were the religious and the national leaders who were very meticulous in following religious ritual while murdering the innocent at the same time. Not only was he innocent, he was also righteous. And not only was he righteous, he was beneficial. Who else was going around healing a walking hospital and a successful one with a 100% cure rate?

Walking around just blowing away disease and death and anything else that reeked of sin just by a touch or a word or a thought or his will. No one else. You see, you can be innocent and unrighteous.

Yeah, I didn't steal it and that could be true, but you could be, you know, stolen something else. This one, our Lord, of course, was innocent and righteous and beneficial and they were unrighteous, meticulous, and not beneficial and dangerous. And violently so. And we read about this in chapter 18 of John's Gospel, chapter 18 verse 29, verse 28. Then they led Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorium. That's the headquarters of Pilate. And it was early morning, but they themselves did not go into the Praetorium lest they should defile, be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.

I mean, just, we don't want to violate any of the rules. Murderers. That's what they were. And so there's this whole drama going between Pilate and the Sanhedrin, which is the priest and the religious leaders together. Luke is very clear about that.

That is not only the priest, the Sanhedrin, but other leaders of the Jews were in on this also. And there are the lessons for us, if not for us personally, for us to use in delivering the Gospel. And I think one of the best ways and one of the best deliveries of our message is to quote Scripture.

You see, the unbeliever is not likely to go read on their own. We're the ones that have to bring the Word to them. And the way we do that is we quote Scripture. And when they hear this, something is happening.

The unleash, the unleashing, if I can borrow that expression in this application without any irreverence, the unleashing of the power of the Holy Spirit then kicks into another gear. And so verses 29 through 18, chapter 18, sorry, 29 and 30, we read, Pilate then went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this man? They answered and said to him, If he were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered him up to you.

Now we're talking about Pilate and the Sanhedrin. There's a bunch of wise guys. He's the governor. He's the controlling authority. He has a lot of authority.

The tenth legion of Rome is right there in Syria. The snap of his fingers, they're right there in Judea. And he says, What's the charges? And they respond, If he wasn't guilty, we wouldn't bring him here. Stop wasting our time and kill him.

That's the idea. That he lets them get away with this, I think reflects or speaks of the volatile and delicate situation that he had found himself in. And so these are the ones that brought Jesus Christ to Pilate. These are the ones that gave Pilate his first look at the face of Jesus. His spies, without question, had already been passing intelligence to Pilate about him.

Any time in that area where you have mobs of people surrounding one individual, the spies are going to be on the job and they're going to report and they're going to say things like, Well, he was challenged about taxes and he said, Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. He goes around doing good, healing people, and that's the report. Pilate knew he was an innocent man. But that's not enough. It's not enough to know that Jesus is good, that he was innocent.

Who is he and what's your response to who he is? That's what it all comes down to. Jesus himself will tell Pilate towards the end of this. The last words from Jesus to Pilate is that the Jews have the greater sin in this whole thing.

Not you, Pilate. You're not innocent, but they have the greater sin. John 19, verse 11, bottom of the verse, Therefore the one who delivered me to you has the greater sin. And so when people debate who crucified Christ, according to Jesus, the most guilty in the group were the Sanhedrin. The great pressure to crucify Messiah, their own Messiah, came from the most unlikely group on earth, or at least one of the most unlikely groups on earth.

The religious leaders, those who were entrusted with the scrolls, the oracles, the word of God, they were leading the charge to destroy their own Savior. The supposed power to do it, Pilate thought, came from him. Now, make no mistake, Pilate was capable of much violence. In the Gospel of Luke in the 13th chapter, there were present at that season some who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. Evidently, there were those Galileans who were considering an uprising or doing something against Roman rule and mixing it with their religious rights, and Pilate swooped down on them, at least his men, he gave the order, and killed them in the midst of their sacrifice, ergo the mingling of their blood with their own sacrifices. And my point is, Pilate was indeed capable, and he himself supposed that he had the power to execute the Christ.

He tells the Lord that again, verse 11 of chapter 19, or verse 10, he says, Pilate said to him, are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have power to crucify you and power to release you? Well, according to man's law, that is absolutely accurate. That's so, that's correct, but it's not man's law we're concerned with. God is spoken.

It is what God's law is. Acts chapter 2, this again is Peter the apostle, and we are greatly amazed. This is a man that, you know, the Galileans, they were not educated like the Judean and the Jerusalem Jews were, and for that they were looked down upon. That did not mean for one moment that they were less or incapable, that they were as capable, and here Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit now, says, men of Israel, hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs, which God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves also know. Because they were there. They knew about the crucifixion. They knew about the life of Christ. He continues, him being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death. Powerful.

God cut the channel. He directed the course of anything that was going to move, and he used the darkened hearts of the human beings who were willing to be dark in their actions to do it. He never violated anyone's free will. Pilate had made his decision that Caesar was his man. The Sanhedrin had made the decision that power was what they were about, and God just honored their decision and used it to fulfill the prophecy that he knew was going to happen long before time began. That's how far back it goes, and further than that, if you will, because God has never learned anything.

He doesn't need to. And so it was this group of sinister clerics Pilate allowed himself to be entangled with because of his friendship with Caesar. It backfired. That's our text where, again, the Jews cried out saying, if you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend. And he's got to be saying, how did I let myself let these crazy zealots corner me like this? He knows they've got him. He knows Christ is innocent. He wants to execute justice or the Sanhedrin. He would love to crucify them instead of Jesus. But he's cornered, and he's done it all himself.

He's cornered because of his own ambitions. Again, John 19, verse 12. From then on, Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out saying, if you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.

He didn't see that coming when he got out of bed that morning. And that's how it is for the wicked. That's how it is for all of us at times, but especially when you're not right with God. Because the difference between Pilate being a corrupt judge, which I'm not at the present time accusing him of being, though in the end that's what it is. The difference between him being Pilate and some other judge somewhere else, being corrupt with somebody else, is this happens to be God the Son.

And the whole world should have known it, but the whole world did not want to know it. And so now we move from our discussion of Pilate and the Sanhedrin, and we discuss Pilate and his judgment. Because I think that this is still how the impenitent man thinks, the person who is not right with Christ. And let me tell you, there are Christians who are inching away from God, and they are becoming, again, worse. They are becoming, that that backslide is leading to an apostasy. And when someone has fallen away from Christ as an apostate, they turn on him. It's not that they just abandon him. They turn, because this is spiritual.

I mean, you turn away from things that, you know, I used to like that restaurant, I don't like it anymore, but you don't think about burning it down. And I think that speaks of the spiritual nature of what we are engaged in as Christians. The greatest power to crucify among men came from Pilate, God in control all the time. But when Pilate made those words to Jesus, again, verse 10, Do you not know that I have power to crucify you or power to release you?

He missed the sermon that was recently preached by the Lord on this very thing. John chapter 10, verse 18, No one takes it from me. Speaking of his life, the Lord Jesus speaking, I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down. And I have power to take it again.

This command I have received from my Father. And that was fulfilled. Because when he died, he gave up the spirit. No one killed him. They could have stabbed him and poked him and nailed him all day long. If he wasn't ready to go, it's a grotesque picture, but it makes the point. No man killed him.

And that's why Pilate was amazed when word came back that he's already dead. You sure? Yeah.

He just died. At will. At command. None of us can do this. God in his genius has made our critical organs function involuntarily. Our heart beats without us helping it. I mean, of course, we can mess that all up. But God said, no, if I let them control this thing, it'd be like a bad puppeteer.

I mean, it would last a minute, and that would be it. And so no one takes his life, a message Pilate missed. Well, what about our... I don't want to say our neighbors, because that makes it... You see, that throws the guilt onto you. Why aren't you preaching to your neighbors?

Because they don't want to hear it. But when the opportunity does come for us to preach to anybody, and I used to preach in the sense of the Greek, the herald, to say, make way for the king. He's coming again, or you're going to him.

Either way, you will stand before him. Our message has got to be like this. We've got to get the message to the impenitent before they entangle themselves in a situation where they cannot get out of. It would have been nice if someone could have gotten to Pilate these words. No one takes his life from him, but he lays it down of himself. He's got this power, and there's nothing you can do about it, Pilate. And so, in the midst of this dialogue between he and Pilate, at one moment, Jesus has been abused throughout the night. Unfortunately, the Apostles' Creed, which we should get to shortly, it does speak that he suffered under Pontius Pilate, but he also suffered under the Sanhedrin in Herod, too.

He suffered there in the Garden of Gethsemane, when Judas Iscariot, who was entrusted but so much, threw it all away for a few pieces of silver. He was convinced that the Lord, who claimed to be king in the realm of truth, was no threat to Caesar. Pilate knew this, and that should have been the end of it all. Verse 37 of John 18, Pilate therefore said to him, Are you a king then? Jesus answered, You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.

Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice. What was Pilate doing with that? What was he thinking at that time?

I'll get to that in a moment. Three separate times this night, Pilate will pronounce the Lord innocent. These are official verdicts of a judge empowered by Caesar. In verse 38, I find no fault in him. In verse 4, I find no fault in him. In verse 6, I find no fault in him.

On the strength of two or three witnesses, and there it is. But he underestimated the bloodlust of the religious Jews, and that's all they were. They had no relationship with Christ. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and perhaps others were not in this group. But the ones that were, they had bloodlust. John chapter 19 verse 5, Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and a purple robe, and Pilate said, Behold the man. They had beaten him already, verse 19, again.

Pilate left the crown on him with the blood. I'm not going to try to dramatize this. It's not necessary.

The apostles don't do it, and I'm not either. The idea behind this was, look, is this enough for you? Hasn't he suffered enough? He's harmless.

Let it go. That's why he parades the Lord before them, but he miscalculated. They weren't interested in mercy or kindness.

They wanted full-blown power. They were in Satan's care. It took this one time for Pilate to violate his conscience, to cause the shameful reputation that he has forever. He did violate his own conscience. He pronounced him innocent when Jesus said that he had come for truth. What is Pilate's response?

What is truth? He had become jaded. He had listened to all of the philosophers. It was common discussion at the Roman gatherings with the wine and the servants and all the grapes. You know, you can't have Romans without grapes. And he had heard it all and made up his mind it was better for him to look out for himself, be a friend of Caesar. Caesar in that sense had become his god.

Innocents took second seat to that. Justice, these things had happened long ago. The Caesars, the Romans who boasted about such a civility and truth and order, that was only for them. It wasn't for the people they conquered. It wasn't for their slaves. And to this day, the court systems and the aristocracy of the world applaud the Romans. There are many people who go around, boy the Roman army, it was awesome, I wish I could have lived back then.

On what side? The people whom they came to conquer and enslave? Or as one of the enslaved soldiers? There was no way to live.

History romanticizes this, but this stuff was awful. And so what it comes down to, this one violation, this critical moment of violation of conscience, was he is innocent, it's my official decision, now kill him. That's, you know, the cut and dry. That Jesus was that way, he's not for me, you're against me. Whosoever is not for me is against me. You don't get any more cut and dry than that. And here, I don't want to oversimplify that or make it overly complex either, but that is what it comes down to.

He's innocent, now you can kill him. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Pastor Rick is teaching from God's word each time you tune in.

As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, this teaching is available free of charge at our website. Just visit That's We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can do so at or search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app store. That's all for today. Join Pastor Rick next time for more character studies right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 13:33:39 / 2023-03-01 13:43:10 / 10

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