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IT WAS VERY EARLY in the morning when
the rulers of the Jews brought Jesus to Pilate. They would not go into Pilate's
hall, because Pilate was not of their nation; and Pilate came out to them, and
asked them, "What charge do you bring against this man?"
This descriptive image of
Pilate washing his hands of the whole affair is just one of 500 beautiful images on our new CD illustrating the life of Jesus.
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When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that
rather a tumult was rising, he took water, and washed his hands before the
multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: you see to
Matthew 27:11-25 ; Mark 15:1-14 ; Luke 22:62-71,
; John 18:28-40, 19:1-16
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Ecce Homo by Antonio Ciseri c. 1880,
"Behold the Man" Christ Before Pilate
Giovanni Batista Tiepolo 1747
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They answered, "If he were not an evildoer, we would not have brought him to
you." Pilate did not wish to be troubled, and he said, "Take him away, and judge
him by your own law!" The Jews said to Pilate, "We are not allowed to put any
man to death, and we have brought him to you. We have found this man teaching
evil, and telling men not to pay taxes to the Emperor Caesar, and saying that he
himself is Christ, a king."
Then Pilate went into his courtroom, and sent for Jesus; and when he looked at
Jesus, he said, "Are you the King of the Jews? Your own people have brought you
to me. What have you done?"
Jesus said to him, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were of this world,
then those who serve me would fight to save me from my enemies. But now my
kingdom is not here."
Pilate said, "Are you a king, then?" Jesus answered him, "You have spoken it. I
am a king. For this was I born, and for this I came into the world, that I might
speak the truth of God to men."
"Truth," said Pilate, "What is truth?" Then, without waiting for an answer,
Pilate went out to the rulers and the crowd, and said, "I find no evil in this
Pilate thought that Jesus was a harmless man, and he could see no reason why the
rulers and the people should be so bitter against him. But they cried out all
the more, saying, "He stirs up the people everywhere, from Galilee even to this
place." When Pilate heard the word "Galilee," he asked if this man had come from
that land. They told him that he had; and then Pilate said, "Galilee and its
people are under the rule of Herod. He has come up to Jerusalem, and I will send
this man to him."
JESUS SENT TO HEROLD
So from Pilate's courtroom, Jesus was sent, still bound, to Herod's palace. This
was the Herod who had put John the Baptist in prison, and had given his head to
a dancing girl. Herod was very glad to see Jesus, for he had heard many things
about him; and he hoped to see him do some wonderful thing. But Jesus would not
work wonders as a show, and when Herod asked him many questions, Jesus would not
speak a word. Herod would not judge Jesus, for he knew that Jesus had done
nothing wrong; so he and his soldiers mocked Jesus, and dressed him in a gay
robe, as though he were a make-believe king, and sent him back to Pilate.
JESUS BEFORE PILATE A SECOND TIME
Pilate, much against his will, was compelled to decide either for Jesus or
against him. And just as Jesus was standing bound before him a message came to
Pilate from his wife, saying, "Do nothing against that good man; for in this
night I have suffered many things in a dream on account of him.''
Pilate said to the Jews, "You have brought this man to me as one who is leading
the people to evil; and I have seen that there is no evil in him, nor has Herod.
I will order that he be beaten with rods, and then set free. For you know that
it is the custom to set a prisoner free at the time of the feast." They set some
prisoner free, as a sign of the joy at the feast. And at that time there was in
the prison a man named Barabbas, who was a robber and a murderer. Pilate said to
the people, "Shall I set free Jesus, who is called the King of the Jews?"
But the rulers went among the people and urged them to ask for Barabbas to be
set free. And the crowd cried out, "Not this man, but Barabbas!" Then Pilate
said, "What, then, shall I do with Jesus?" And they all cried out, "Crucify him!
Let him die on the cross!"
Pilate wished greatly to spare the life of Jesus. To show how he felt, he sent
for water, and he washed his hands before all the people, saying, "My hands are
clean from the blood of this good man!' And they cried out, "Let his blood be on
us, and on our children after us! Crucify him! Send him to the cross!"
Then Pilate, to please the people, gave them what they asked. He set free
Barabbas, the man of their choice, though he was a robber and a murderer; but
before giving way to the cry that he should send Jesus to the cross, he tried
once more to save his life. He caused Jesus to be beaten until the blood came
upon him, hoping that this might satisfy the people. As Jesus was spoken of as a
king, the soldiers who beat Jesus made a crown of thorns, and put it on his
head, and they put on him a purple robe, such as was worn by kings, and bowing
down before him they called out to him, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
Then, hoping to awaken some pity for Jesus, Pilate brought him out to the
people, with the crown of thorns and the purple robe upon him, and Pilate said,
"Look on this man!" But again the cry arose, "Crucify him! Send him to the
cross!'' And at last Pilate yielded to the voice of the people. He sat down on
the judgment seat, and gave command that Jesus, whom he knew to be a good man,
one who had done nothing evil, should be put to death upon the cross.
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