Before Pilate and Herod

Pilate, the governor of the area, usually lived in the provincial capital Caesarea, but he came to Jerusalem during Jewish festivals to help maintain order. His official residence and administration centre in Jerusalem was called the praetorium. The Jewish leaders, wanting to have Jesus dealt with and out of the way before the festival started, took him to Pilate early in the morning (Luke 23:1; John 18:28-29).

The Jews had charged Jesus with blasphemy for calling himself the Son of God, but when they took him to Pilate they twisted the charge. They emphasized not that he claimed to be God but that he claimed to be above Caesar. They suggested he was a political rebel trying to lead a messianic uprising that would overthrow Roman rule and set up an independent Jewish state (Luke 23:2). Pilate tried to dismiss the case, but the Jews would not drop their charges (John 18:30-32).

Jesus then gave Pilate the true picture. He explained that his kingdom was not concerned with political power, and had nothing to do with national uprisings. It was a spiritual kingdom and it was based on truth. Pilate did not grasp the full meaning of Jesus’ explanation, but he understood enough to be convinced that Jesus was not a political rebel. He suspected that the Jews had handed him over for judgment because they were jealous of his religious following (Matt 27:11-14,18; Luke 23:3-5; John 18:33-38).


When Pilate learnt that Jesus was from Galilee, which was not under his control, he tried to avoid the issue by sending Jesus to the Galilean governor Herod, who also was in Jerusalem for the festival (Luke 23:6-7). But Jesus refused to speak to Herod, and made no attempt to defend himself against the false accusations the Jewish leaders made against him. After mocking him cruelly, Herod sent him back to Pilate (Luke 23:8-12).

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