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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on July 9, 2017 under 2017 |

Preached Sunday, July 9, 2017 from Mark 15:1-5

Theme: Even as He stood before the greatest powers of this world, Jesus was confident of His ultimate kingdom rule.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

As we come this morning to the fifteenth chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we’re introduced to a man who—for good or ill—is among the most recognized human beings in history.

His fame doesn’t come from anything particularly outstanding about himself, though. In fact, in and of himself, he was a rather unimpressive figure; one who was stuck in a political position that he didn’t particularly like, and that he wasn’t particularly outstanding in, and from which he eventually got fired. He would otherwise have faded far into the background of world history, and would have been completely forgotten, if not for the fact of his brief encounter with Someone who is—Himself—the great Theme of all human history.

This man’s name was Pontius Pilate. And Matthew 15:1-5 tells us of his meeting with Jesus Christ.

* * * * * * * * * *

Many years before Pilate’s time, the emperor of Rome had banished Herod Archelaus, son of Herod the Great—a very cruel Tetrarch over the Jewish region of Judea—to the far-away land of Gaul. Ancient Gaul is now what we know as the region of France; but back then, it was the place to which Rome sent unwanted and problematic rules. And once Archelaus was gone, and from then on, Judea was placed under direct Roman supervision through specially appointed governors. Pilate was the fifth of these Roman governors to serve over the region of Judea; and he was appointed to his governorship by Emperor Tiberius at about the time that Jesus had begun His earthly ministry. He was directly responsible to the Roman governor who ruled over Syria; and he exercised the authority of Rome over the Jewish people’s homeland.

The Jewish people didn’t like him very much. And it’s very evident that he didn’t like them very much either. He lived in the luxurious coastal city of Caesarea Maritima; and only spent time in Jerusalem when he absolutely had to. And what’s more, he was notoriously insensitive toward the Jewish religion and harsh in the administration of his policies. A good example of how he conducted his governorship is found in Luke 13:1; where Jesus was told about “the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices”. Pilate seemed almost determined at times to find outlandish and inhumane ways to offend the people over whom he was appointed.

Eventually, a complaint arose to Pilate’s supervising governor in Syria; and he was called to account and exiled to Gaul where—as an early church historian politely put it—he became ‘his own slayer’. In a sense, he stands as a remarkable example of raw secular governmental power over the affairs of the people of this world. He had great authority over the lives and well-being of God’s chosen people—but was unworthy of his authority, and was deeply cynical and utterly godless in his use of it.

And it was to this very man that Jesus—the Son of God; the promised King of kings—was brought by the Jewish leaders. And thus occurred the most remarkable encounter in human history between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man. After Jesus’ trial before the Jewish leadership council, and right after the sad story of Peter’s denial of our Lord, we’re told;

Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate. Then Pilate asked Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered and said to him, “It is as you say.” And the chief priests accused Him of many things, but He answered nothing. Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, “Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!” But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled (Mark 15:1-5).

There is more to the story. After this encounter—in verses 6-15—we read of how the Jewish people demanded of Pilate that Jesus be crucified and that a criminal named Barabbas be set free in His place. I like to refer to that later section as ‘The World before Jesus’, because it shows how this world scorned and rejected Him. But I am referring to this morning’s passage as ‘Jesus before The World.’, because it speaks of how He confronted the powers of this world with the fact of who He truly is.

And let me explain to you why I believe this passage is so relevant to you and me. Our Lord Jesus was brought before a man who represented the most powerful human government on earth at that time. Pilate was—to the Jewish people—the apex of secular human power; and he represented to them the totalitarian authority of the Roman empire. And yet, the One who stood before Him was King of an even greater and more lasting kingdom than even Rome—not a kingdom of human government, of course; but rather, a spiritual kingdom. All human power—even though it may be as great on earth as the power of Rome—is destined, one day, to be brought under subjection to King Jesus. And Jesus knew this; and so, He conducted Himself with absolute confidence in His eventual rule as He stood before the earthly governor Pilate.

As followers of Jesus, you and I also deal with human governments and human powers. In this world, we live under the authority of those human governments. And we are to submit ourselves to that authority; but not out of fear of the governments themselves. Rather, we are to submit to them in the fear and reverence of God; and only obey them so long as our doing so does not conflict with our greater obligation and devotion to the kingdom of God—and to our true king, King Jesus.

Our chief obligation is to a kingdom that is spiritual, and that will not fade away. As this passage clearly shows us, even as He stood before the greatest of the fading powers of this world, Jesus was confident of His ultimate kingdom rule. To the degree that we are rightly related to our King, we too will live in this world with confidence in His eventual rule.

* * * * * * * * * *

Let’s look a bit more closely at this passage and see how the kingdom-confidence of King Jesus was put on display before Pontius Pilate. We see it in verse 1; where I suggest that we’re shown …


In the original language of the New Testament, Mark here uses one of his favorite words: “immediately”. After Jesus stood trial before the chief priests, scribes and elders of the people, we’re told, “Immediately, in the morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council; and they bound Jesus, led Him away, and delivered Him to Pilate”.

Now; in another Gospel—in Matthew 27:1—we read;

When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death (Matthew 27:1).

So the trial was not about justice, but rather about legal murder. But why was it necessary that these Jewish leaders bring Jesus before this Roman governor in order to accomplish their plan? It was because years before this time, the Jewish people had lost the authority to execute its own accused criminals. The Roman government took that power away from them; and now, the only way that they could execute someone that they had found worthy of death was through the authority of the foreign Roman governor. And so, after having charged Jesus with the blasphemy of answering “yes” when the chief priest asked Him if He was “the Christ, the Son of the Blessed,” they now brought Him to Pilate in order to persuade Pilate to execute Him for them.

And you’ll notice that we’re told that they “bound” Jesus. They had no pressing reason to bind Him, however. He had submitted Himself willingly to their arrest. He had not put up any kind of fight at all; and even when one of His disciples had threatened to fight for Him, He ordered him to stop. And yet, as they brought Him before Pilate, they brought Him shamefully bound in shackles as if He were a dangerous criminal. I believe they did this for show—in order to impress Pilate that he needed to execute Jesus for them.

And there’s even more shame that they had brought upon Him when they had presented Him to Pilate. Mark 14:65 tells us what happened after they had decided upon His guilt;

Then some began to spit on Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers struck Him with the palms of their hands (Mark 14:65).

So; when they brought Jesus to Pilate, they brought Him bruised and battered, and with their spittle upon His face, and—for additional effect—bound as a shameful criminal.

But do you remember what had happened back in the Garden of Gethsemane? When the officials and the soldiers came to arrest Him, and when He asked them who they sought, and when they said, “Jesus of Nazareth”, and when He replied, “I am He”, they all stumbled backward and fell to the ground. He showed then that He had the power to resist arrest if He had wanted to. In fact, if He could have done far worse to them. He said that, if He had wished, He could have prayed to the Father, and the Father would have sent more than twelve legions of angles to fight for Him and rescue Him. If He was brought in such a condition to Pilate, it was because He had allowed it to be so.

So; why then did He submit Himself to shame and spitting and slaps—and even to shackles—as He was brought before this powerful Roman governor Pilate? Why was it that He—the powerful Son of God—displayed such meekness in the hands of His oppressors? It’s because He was confident of who He was as King of kings and Lord of lords; and that when the Father’s plan for Him as our Redeemer upon the cross was completed, He would reign—and that eventually, all knees would bow to Him.

He Himself—in His pre–incarnate glory—prophesied of Himself in Isaiah 50:6-7; and He said this:

I gave My back to those who struck Me,

And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;

I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.

For the Lord God will help Me;

Therefore I will not be disgraced;

Therefore I have set My face like a flint,

And I know that I will not be ashamed” (Isaiah 50:6-7).

And dear brothers and sisters in Christ; if we are rightly related to Him as we should be—then we too can share today in the confidence He had back then. We can know that, no matter what this world may do to us, He will reign … and that we will reign with Him.

* * * * * * * * * *

So; that was how He displayed His confidence through His meekness as He as brought before Pilate. And in verse 2, I suggest we see that confidence in …


Mark tells us in verse 2, “Then Pilate asked Him, ‘Are You the King of the Jews?’” And you have to understand how this was said in the original language to appreciate its impact. Pilate took one look at this Man brought before Him; and he spoke in an ‘emphatic’ way. In the original language, it reads like this: “You—You are the King of the Jews?”

Pilate, you’ll remember, had been the governor over Judea for a few years by this point. He may not have been a very worthy governor, but he certainly wasn’t an ignorant man. He knew that the Jews were talking a lot about someone in their midst that everyone was referring to as their “King”—someone other than the puppet king that Rome had already put into power. But when they brought Jesus before him, the whole idea must have seemed a bit absurd to him. There Jesus stood—in shackles, bruised and bleeding, with black eyes and fattened lips from the blows and slaps He had received, with the spittle of the Jewish leaders upon His face; and Pilate’s response was, “You—You are the King of the Jews, eh? Why, you certainly don’t look like much of a king to me!”

But whether Pilate meant it as a question to Jesus or not, we’re then told what Jesus said. “He answered and said to him, ‘It is as you say.’” In fact, in the original language, Jesus’ answer was as equally emphatic as Pilate’s question; “You—you say it.” It was a Hebrew expression that meant a clear and unambiguous “yes”.

Now; Mark gives us only an abbreviated version of Pilate’s conversation with our Lord. And this is one case where I think it helps a great deal to go to another Gospel to get further details. Turn with me, if you would, to the 18th chapter of the Gospel of John. Beginning in verse 33, John tells us more about this encounter; and said us that Pilate actually stepped away from those who brought Jesus, so that he could interrogate Jesus in a more private way:

Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:33-36).

And do you see? Jesus freely declared that He was indeed a king. But He then explained that it was not in a sense that Pilate understood or had heard of before. Jesus is the King of a kingdom that is not of this world. It is a spiritual kingdom; and in that sense, it presented no direct threat to either Rome or Judea or to any other human kingdom—except in that it would save the souls of those who are in those earthly kingdoms, and would sets their hearts toward their inheritance in the kingdom of God.

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” (vv. 37-38).

That’s when we read of Pilate asking that one, great cynical question that he is most famous for:

Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all (v. 38.)

Pilate’s conclusion, then, was that if Jesus was King of a kingdom not of this world, than He was no threat to the earthly kingdom of Rome. And Jesus’ response to Pilate—when understood in its fullness—was a response of great and confident boldness. Jesus had a full assurance of who He was. He was the promised Christ—the King of a spiritual and everlasting kingdom; and even as He stood before Pilate in temporal shame and humiliation, He nevertheless proclaimed His true identity clearly—even to the representative of the greatest political power on earth.

And in the light of this, consider what Jesus would have known that was said about Him in the Old Testament prophecy of Isaiah 52:13-15. God the Father spoke to the oppressed Old Testament people of Israel and said of their promised Christ;

Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;

He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.

Just as many were astonished at you,

So His visage was marred more than any man,

And His form more than the sons of men;

So shall He sprinkle many nations.

Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;

For what had not been told them they shall see,

And what they had not heard they shall consider (Isaiah 52:13-15).

I say it again, dear brothers and sisters: If Jesus could speak boldly because of the confidence that He had in who He was, and because He was assured that His kingdom will be fully realized and that every knee would bow to Him, then we too can be confident and bold in our declaration of Him in this world if we are rightly related to Him by faith!

* * * * * * * * * *

So; by this point, the Roman governor was encountering someone the likes of which he had never seen before—a Man who claimed to be the King of a kingdom not of this world … and who actually carried Himself as if that’s what He truly was!

Apparently, after this private interview, the governor brought Jesus back before His accusers. And if he had been surprised by Jesus before this, he became even more astonished afterward. In verses 3-5, we find Jesus’ confidence displayed in …


Mark tells us, “And the chief priests accused Him of many things” (v. 3a). Again, we need to go to another Gospel—the Gospel of Luke—to understand the nature of the accusations they were making. Luke 23:1-2 tells us;

Then the whole multitude of them arose and led Him to Pilate. And they began to accuse Him, saying, “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (Luke 23:1-2).

Do you remember Jesus’ trial before these Jewish leaders? Those were not the things that they found Him guilty of. They had charged Him with such things as saying that He would destroy the temple and build another one in three days; or that He answered ‘yes’ when they asked Him if He was the Christ. But those were matters of religious debate among themselves; and they knew that Pilate wouldn’t care about any such things. And so, when they brought Jesus to Pilate, they had to make the charge something that Pilate would care about; so they said that it was because He said that He was a king in competition with Caesar, and that He had been forbidding the Jewish people from paying taxes to the Roman government—neither of which was true.

Luke went on to tell us;

Then Pilate asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” He answered him and said, “It is as you say.” So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” But they were the more fierce, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee to this place” (Luke 23:3-5).

So; these are the kinds of accusations they were making against Jesus when they brought Him before Pilate. And Mark goes on to tell us, “… but He answered nothing” (v. 3b).

This was utterly surprising to Pilate. Many accused prisoners had stood before him before; and he had heard them, many times, fight against his accusers, and deny their charges, and call them all liars—even when he knew that the charges were true. But here was a first! Here was a man that Pilate knew was innocent—who had been brought before him on trumped-up charges from out of jealousy against Him; and yet, He simply stood there and said nothing.

Mark tells us, “Then Pilate asked Him again, saying, ‘Do You answer nothing? See how many things they testify against You!’ But Jesus still answered nothing, so that Pilate marveled” (vv. 3b-5). Pilate was willing to set this innocent Man free; but how could he set Him free if He wouldn’t even answer the charges that were made against Him? Mark says that Pilate “marveled”; but in Matthew’s Gospel, we’re told that he “marveled greatly”! Pilate had never encountered such a thing as this—a man who confidently bore Himself up against false accusations, and didn’t even try to answer them!

And again, I believe that Jesus was silent before His accusers because He had absolute confidence in who He was and in what it was God had sent Him to do; and also in the glorious result that God would bring about afterward. As we’re told in Isaiah 53:6 about Him;

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,

Yet He opened not His mouth;

He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,

And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,

So He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

And I say it once again, dear brothers and sisters; if we are rightly aligned with Him as we should be, then we will also share in His confidence—and in His future glory.

* * * * * * * * * *

And so; there we have it. The greatest earthly power confronted the King of a heavenly and eternal kingdom; and our Lord answered every part of the confrontation with confident meekness, bold honesty, and peaceful resolve. He knew who He was. He knew what the Father had called Him to do. And He knew the glorious outcome that God would bring about as a result—that every knee will bow to Him, and every tongue will confess Him as Lord to the glory of God the Father. Pilate may have been in charge of the proceedings; but Jesus was in complete control of them.

This is Jesus before the world. And so long as we are rightly related to Him by faith and obedience, we can be confident in this world too—because we are united to Him and will reign with Him.

Let me close with Jesus’ words to His followers after all these events were over—after the cross, after the burial, after His triumphant resurrection, and just before He ascended back to the Father. It’s the perfect commentary on our Lord Jesus’ kingdom in relation to all other earthly powers. Matthew 28:18-20 tells us that He gathered His disciples together;

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

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