“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ asked Pilate. ‘You have said so,’ Jesus replied. The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, ‘Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.’ But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.”—Mark 15:1–5 (NIV)
I have a confession to make. I'm obsessed with true crime documentaries. It's fascinating to me how law enforcement officials spend weeks sorting through the scene of a crime. Lawyers spend days sorting through and presenting the evidence in court. Witnesses bring their testimonies, and suspects plead their innocence or admit their guilt. The drama of the trail is captivating.
Here in Mark 15, we’re witnessing a similar trial—Jesus's trial. The Sanhedrin (the entirety of the Jewish religious officials) made their plans and brought their case against Jesus, like a skillful prosecuting attorney. These Jewish officials had a certain level of authority, but they legally weren't allowed to execute Jewish criminals. That’s why they handed Jesus over to Roman authorities. They knew Jesus was well liked by the people, so if Pilate, a notoriously ruthless Roman governor, convicted Jesus, they would be absolved of blame and backlash from the people.
The Sanhedrin brought Jesus to Pilate and told him Jesus claimed to be king. This was a political threat to the Roman government because Rome believed there was only one king—Caesar. However, Jesus didn’t deny He was king when Pilate asked. And as king, He has ultimate authority.
Pilate questioned Him about the charges brought against Him, and Jesus made no response. This is unlike the pattern we saw in the previous couple of chapters. The chief priests, the Pharisees, and the scribes had all come to Him with questions or problems in an attempt to trick Him. Jesus was able to answer every one of their questions with such wisdom that “no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:34 NIV).
Why then did Jesus not respond to Pilate’s questioning? In true crime documentaries, if the person on trial was unjustly convicted, he or she would plead with the judge, and their attorney would defend their innocence with the fullest extent of the law. But not Jesus.
Could it be that Jesus didn’t answer because He didn’t have to defend Himself to Pilate because He was not under Pilate’s authority? Or could it be that Jesus didn’t answer because He knew about His Father’s plans, and His silence was an act of love and obedience to fulfill those plans for our good?
The prophet Isaiah predicted: “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 its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7 NIV).
Whatever the reason was, Pilate was amazed at Jesus. This is a common response to Jesus (Mark 1:27, 6:2, 6:51, and 12:17). Jesus truly is amazing. What is your response to Him?
Pause: Have you ever been convicted or accused of something you didn’t do? How did it feel? How did you respond?
Practice: Have you ever accused someone of something, but they were innocent? Take time to apologize to that person today.
Pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice and Your submission. I can’t imagine what it was like to be unjustly accused and convicted. Thank You for Your love and obedience. When I reflect on the gospel, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what You have done. I am amazed by You. May my life reflect my amazement and appreciation! Amen.