Tuesday 28 January 2014

Mark 15:1-20 - The Roman view

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Jesus has been arrested and brought before the Jewish religious authorities. They have sentenced him to death as a blasphemer and fraud, but under Roman rule they are not permitted to carry out a death sentence. If Jesus is to die as a criminal, the Jewish leaders will have to persuade or force the Roman governor to have him executed.

They therefore pass him to Pontius Pilate who asks him if he is, indeed, the king of the Jews. Presumably the Sanhedrin told him this as it's likely that anyone usurping Roman power would be put to death. But Pilate is not easily fooled, he seems to understand that Jesus is not guilty of any capital crime under Roman law. Notice that he doesn't defend himself or present his case before Pilate. Can we learn something from that? How are we to behave when we are criticised or persecuted? Jesus tells us to love our enemy; what does that mean in practice?

In the end, Pilate hands Jesus over for crucifixion not because he believes he deserves it, but to satisfy the mob [Tweet it!]. Much to his credit, he tries quite hard to have Jesus released, but like any politician he can't ignore strong public opinion.

Once the Roman troops have him to themselves they taunt him and mock him, dressing him in royal robes and finally leading him out for crucifixion.

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