This Study Guide is from The Rev. Adam Hamilton’s Course in the Last 24 Hours of Jesus’ life on earth. If you have a text book, read along with the corresponding chapters, and if you have a daily devotional you might start on Ash Wednesday. There are no hard and fast rules. You can do this at your own speed. Classes are on Sundays after church with Jim Poplin or on Wednesday mornings at 9:30 with Rev. Card. If neither of these times is convenient, you can follow along online at https://www.facebook.com/pumcnh/, or our website peterboroughumc.org. This information is shared for your enrichment.
Session 4 of 24 Hours That Changed the World
Study Guide #4
Jesus, Barabbas and Pontius Pilate
Mark 15:1-151 As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. 2 Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.” 3 Then the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. 6 Now at the festival he used to release a prisoner for them, anyone for whom they asked. 7 Now a man called Barabbas was in prison with the rebels who had committed murder during the insurrection. 8 So the crowd came and began to ask Pilate to do for them according to his custom. 9 Then he answered them, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that the chief priests had handed him over. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Pilate spoke to them again, “Then what do you wish me to do with the man you call the King ofthe Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!” 14 Pilate asked them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.
In this week’s study guide we’ll read each of the four gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus before Pilate. Each account in the gospels fills in more details. Don’t study just to know what happened. Study so that you might understand how this story might speak to you today.
Monday: This week as you begin your study guide readings, take out a sheet of paper, turn it sideways, and make four columns, one for each of the four gospels. Each day use one of the columns to describe what new information you have learned about the trial of Jesus before Pilate as you read the gospel for the day. Read Matthew 27: 11-26. Notice the first name of Barabbas according to Matthew. The name, Jesus, means “Savior.” We have a choice here between two very different men sharing the name Savior. How did Jesus and Barabbas differ?
Notice verse 19. None of the other gospels tell us this. In several churches Pilate’s wife was canonized as a saint. Matthew’s gospel alone records verses 24 and 25 (this section was eventually removed from Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” because it was too often used as the basis of anti-Semitism in the past). Matthew’s gospel was likely written shortly after the Jews were defeated by the Romans and the city of Jerusalem destroyed after the Jewish Great Revolt against Rome — how would Roman Christians have read this passage in the light of these recent events? Look over Sunday’s sermon notes. How does this passage speak to you?
Tuesday: Today we’ll study the story of Jesus’ trial before Pilate from Mark’s gospel. Read Mark 15:1-15. Note verse 15 in particular. How does Pilate’s desire to please the crowd relate to your life today? Why did Jesus remain silent during most of his trial before Pilate?
Wednesday: Read Luke 23:1-25. Notice how Luke’s account differs from
Matthew and Mark. Notice the charges the Sanhedrin makes against Jesus. Recall that Jesus, when asked about taxes, had said, “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” yet the truth seemed to matter little here. Pilate saw through these charges. Luke and the other gospels portray Pilate, the Roman governor, as sympathetic with Jesus. With the gospels having been written at a time when the Jews in the Holy Land had revolted against Rome, emphasizing Pilate’s desire to set Jesus free, and the Jewish leaders’ antipathy toward Jesus would have helped Romans to accept Jesus more readily. Notice Pilate sends Jesus for trial by Herod Antipas who ruled over the Galilee region where Jesus was from. Herod had put John the Baptist to death. Notice Jesus’ silence before Herod, who himself was a scoundrel. Try to picture this scene in your mind’s eye. Note that twice Luke mentions what Barabbas was in prison for — showing the contrast between Barabbas, who was a would-be messiah who murdered with the sword, and Jesus, who as Messiah would lay down his own life for the rest of humankind. Note how in each successive gospel Pilate’s attempt to free Jesus becomes more pronounced.
Thursday: Read John 18:28-19:16. Notice that John has Jesus being tried and crucified on the day of the Passover feast — Matthew, Mark and Luke have this taking place on the day after the Passover feast. John wishes us to connect the death of Jesus with the actual time when the Passover lambs were slaughtered. Notice verse 36 where Jesus makes clear that, while he is a king, his kingdom is not a direct challenge to Rome. Verse 37 tells us what Jesus’ mission was as the king who came to earth. Notice in John’s account that Pilate has Jesus flogged, in the hope that this would be sufficient punishment for the Sanhedrin and the crowd, and then presents the bloodied, beaten and humiliated Jesus to the crowd, noting he found no basis for putting him to death. Notice verse 7 and Pilate’s reaction to this. This account, written latter than any of the others, makes it even more clear that Pilate wished to set Jesus free. Notice that though the religious leaders hated Caesar, they preferred Caesar to Jesus, this king who threatened their religious world.
Friday: Just weeks after Jesus’ death and resurrection, following his ascension to heaven, Peter and John, now emboldened by the power of the Holy Spirit and having been with the resurrected Jesus, were arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin. Notice that Peter, who had been afraid to admit knowing Jesus when Jesus was before the Sanhedrin, now speaks with power and boldness. Read Acts 4:1-31. Notice this passage points to all who played a part in Jesus’ condemnation and death. Contrast the courage of Peter with the actions of Pilate.
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