Aren’t You Going to Answer
5th Wednesday in Lent
Aren’t You Going to Answer?
Text: Mark 15:1-5
Pontius Pilate and the Jews did not get along. During his tenure as Roman governor over the land of Judea, Pontius Pilate pulled a number of stunts that did not go over well. He put pressure on the Jews with his Roman power and authority. Several times he was disrespectful to the Jewish religion or to the temple in Jerusalem. The most heinous of his hate crimes took place not too long before this fateful Friday. Pilate had orchestrated a slaughter of Galileans at the temple. In this scenario the Jews saw Pilate needlessly killing and vilely mixing their own blood with the blood of their sacrifices.
But now they needed him. Even though they found Jesus guilty of blasphemy (wrongfully), which was a crime punishable by death, the Jews were not allowed to carry out this execution themselves. They needed the governor’s approval. One last step in their evil plan—one last cog to click—until they were finally rid of their hated enemy, Jesus of Nazareth.
It was going to be a stretch. They had no hard evidence. They didn’t get along with Pilate. It was very early on Friday morning. But they brought out the big guns of duplicitous and dastardly deeds. They brought a riotous and loud mob. They proclaimed their own sentence of death. They hurled more accusations: “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
This caught Pilate’s attention. This was his turf. No one was going to disturb the peace on his watch (unless he was the one doing it). He surely was not going to become known to Caesar as the one governor who didn’t enforce taxes. And a king? What kind of king? A fake, figurehead king that really had no power like Herod king of the Jews? Or a real king who would try and usurp his power and revolt against the Romans?
He sure didn’t look like it. He sure didn’t act like it. But he still had to ask, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus responded simply and frankly, “Yes, it is as you say.” John records more details about the conversation. Jesus also explained to Pilate that he was the king of a different kind of kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world. He came to testify to the truth and those who listen to Jesus are on the side of the truth. That led to Pilate’s famous question, “What is truth?”
Following this the governor told the Jews that he found no basis for a charge against him. So he tried to trade the murderer Barabbas for Jesus. But they wouldn’t have it. Then he sent Jesus in to be flogged and beaten and tortured. Maybe they would relent out of sympathy for Jesus and this punishment. But they didn’t. They continued to hurl accusations at Jesus. They taunted Pilate. They cried out, “Crucify! Crucify!” Finally Pilate had to ask Jesus again what Mark records in verse 4, Aren’t You Going to Answer?
Pilate was surely ruthless in his own right, but he seemed to understand that Jesus was innocent. He didn’t really want to condemn an innocent man. And something was different about this one. You can almost hear Pilate thinking, “Come on! Say something! Don’t you know that they are trying to kill you? Don’t you know that if you have no defense you will be killed? Defend yourself! Aren’t You Going to Answer?” “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.”
Jesus had the spotlight. The microphone was his. He could have rebuked the Jews. He could have preached Sermon on the Mount Part 2. He could have at least set the record straight. “But Jesus still made no reply.”
Thus, the words of Isaiah 53:7 were fulfilled, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” This silent defense was 700 years in the making, and now it finally happened—just as God had said.
Yet this was more than fulfillment of prophecy. This was a willing servant. This was one who did not his will, but his Father’s will. This was one who was going to achieve his mission. Thus we see again that as Jesus stood silently before his accusers he was also standing willingly before his accusers.
There has never been a greater or grosser injustice in the history of the world than Jesus being accused and sentenced to die. But he did not object or answer because that is what he came to do. Jesus came to be accused. He came to suffer. He came to die. If Jesus had objected, if he had made defense, if he had set the record straight, then he would not be our Savior. For the death of the sinless Son of God was the only payment acceptable for sin. His death was the only death that could crush Satan’s head. His death was the only death that could once and for all bring forgiveness. So Jesus gave no answer because he was going to fulfill prophecy—prophecy as the silent sufferer and prophecy as the Savior of the world.
Pilate often reminds us of ourselves. Pilate was beginning to grasp who Jesus was. He knew something was different. Perhaps he even heard of some of the great things he had done. But he didn’t fully trust in Jesus or who he was or what he came to do.
Sometimes we toe that line of trust in our great King. We know and believe in him more than Pilate did. But do we always put our full reliance and trust in him? If we fully trusted in him as King, we wouldn’t doubt his rule over our lives. If we fully trusted in him as King, we wouldn’t wonder so much whether he is in control. If we fully trusted in him as King, we wouldn’t become so worried about all the various problems in our lives.
Pilate can also remind us of how we pray. We pray and pray and pray. We wait and wait and wait. Come on Jesus! Aren’t You Going to Answer? Pilate didn’t realize that Jesus had a far greater plan in mind. Often we also fail to realize that Jesus has a far greater plan in mind when he doesn’t give us an answer.
An interesting question I often ask in Bible studies is, “Who is responsible for Jesus’ death?” We might point to the Jews who rejected Jesus, accused Jesus, and begged for his execution. We might point to the weak Pilate who was afraid to follow his gut and upset the Jews. We might point to the Roman soldiers who drove the nails home. But the more accurate answer is all of us. All people of all time are responsible for Jesus’ death. All of us have sinned. All of us have disobeyed God. All of us made Jesus’ death necessary.
And Jesus knew that. That’s why he stood silently before the Jews. That’s why he stood silently before Pilate. That’s why he went humbly like a lamb to the slaughter. That’s why he let the Roman hammers draw his blood. That’s why he carried all sin. That’s why he suffered hell. That’s why he died. Jesus knew that a world of sinners had sins to pay for, so silently and resolutely he went about that mission. As the hymn we just sang says, What Grace is This! . . . Such grace, sweet grace, for me!
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Posted on April 7, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged Barabbas, Church, Isaiah, Isaiah 53, Lamb of God, Lamb to the Slaughter, Mark, Mark 15, Pontius Pilate, Sermons. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.