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Sunday School

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In a series of illegal actions, Jesus had been arrested (see John 18:1-3, 12), taken before Annas, the former high priest for questioning (see John 18:13,19), and finally taken before Caiaphas, the current priest, and the Sanhedrin council where He was interrogated again and was falsely accused of blasphemy and condemned to die (see Mark 14:55-64). Knowing that the Jews couldn’t put any man to death under Roman law, the Sanhedrin council led by Caiaphas, the high priest took Jesus to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea (see Matthew 27:1-2) who was in Jerusalem at the time of the Jewish Passover. When the Jewish leaders brought Jesus before Pilate they lied saying that Jesus was causing trouble for Israel by forbidding the people to pay taxes to Caesar (see Luke 23:1-2). After Pilate interrogated Jesus, he determined that He had done nothing wrong (see Luke 23:3-4; John 18:38). Unhappy with Pilate’s decision, the Jewish leaders became even angrier and told Pilate that Jesus was stirring up the people from Galilee to Jerusalem (see Luke 23:5). When Pilate heard the word Galilee, he decided that he could get rid of this problem by sending Jesus to Herod who had jurisdiction over Galilee and was also in Jerusalem at that time (see Luke 23:6-7). Jesus was then sent to Herod was pleased to see Jesus hoping He would perform some kind of miracle. But Jesus never responded to any of Herod’s questions so after mocking Jesus, Herod sent Him back to Pilate (see Luke 23:8-11). Again, Pilate told the chief priests and rulers of the people that he had questioned Jesus again and both he and Herod could not find Him guilty of anything the leaders had accused Him of so he would chastise Jesus and let Him go (see Luke 23:13-16). The Jewish leaders knew that it was the custom of Rome to set a prisoner free whoever they desired during Passover as a good will gesture to the Jews (see Mark 15:6). So since the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus put to death, they cried louder for Pilate to release a murderer named Barabbas instead of Jesus, whom Pilate had found to be innocent of all accusations against Him (see Luke 23:17-18). Then Pilate, had Jesus scourged and his soldiers put a crown of thorns on His head and a put a purple robe on Him while slapping Him and mockingly saying “Hail King of the Jews” (see John 19:1-3). Pilate then brought Jesus out before the crowd and again he declares Jesus to be without fault; but when the chief priests and other leaders saw Him, they shouted out “crucify Him, crucify Him” (see John 19:4-6). Then the Jewish leaders told Pilate that their law requires that Jesus be put to death because He claimed to be the Son of God (see John 19:7). Pilate was now frightened (see John 19:8) that Jesus would be crucified under him for an alleged breach of Jewish law, and he is also frightened of the opposition of the Jews (see Matthew 27:19). So he asked Jesus why He wouldn’t say anything to him since he had the power to either crucify or release Him. But Jesus told him that any power he had came from above (see John 19:10-11). Once again, Pilate tried to release Jesus but the Jews cried out what Pilate never wanted to hear: “If you let this man go you are not Caesar’s (or Rome) friend because whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar” (see John 19:12). So Pilate gave it one last feeble try and asked the crowd, now mostly a mob, “shall I crucify your King?” But the chief priests answered “We have no king but Caesar” (see John 19:14) and they continued to cry out “Let Him be crucified” (see Matthew 22-23). At this point, Pilate realized that he had no other choice but to give in to the mob’s desires. But first, he took some water and washed his hands declaring that he was “innocent of the blood of this just person: you (the Jewish leaders) see to it” (see Matthew 27:24). This is where our lesson begins.

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