President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” In today’s passage, we get to engage a story where power is a central theme. Everyone in the story has some power: Pilate, the priests, and the crowd of people. They all use it in relation to Jesus.
- In what ways do you see Lincoln’s comment to be true in the world around you? How do you use power in your own life?
READ THE WORD: MARK 15:1-15 (ESV)
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.”3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourgedJesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Look at all the ways Pilate addressed Jesus. What were his opinions of Jesus?
- Why did Pilate release Barabbas and not Jesus (vs. 15)? Would you consider this a good judge or ruler? Why or why not?
- Jesus remained quiet through all of the accusations. What were the reactions of the chief priests and crowds during his silence?
- Jesus knew what was to come—scourging, crucifixion, death—and was willing to submit to it. Who are the authorities in your life, and do you submit to their authority?
RESPOND TO GOD
Jesus did not respond to Pilate, the priests, or the crowds. Isaiah 53:7 says, “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 her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth” [NIV]. Jesus has all power and authority, but instead of using it for himself, he endured and submitted to sinful man in order to be the sacrifice for us.
- Thank God for this amazing gift—that Jesus was willing to deny his power to accept your punishment.
- Spend some time in prayer asking God to help you be less proud and more willing to submit to him and the authorities he has placed over you.