Trial: John 18:28—19:16
“Christ Killers!” The words made my stomach tighten. Someone had spray-painted the words and a series of swastikas on the Jewish synagogue in our city. Anti-Semitism had raised its ugly head again. Unfortunately, Nazism is just one example of ways in which people have used the Christian faith to support their own belief systems.
What are some other historical and current ways in which the message of Christianity is being distorted to fit a particular ideology?
What temptation to compromise your faith do you face? Ask the one who has faced trial in Pilate’s court to give you strength.
The New Testament does blame the Jewish leaders for condemning Jesus to die. But they weren’t acting alone. The Roman governor Pontius Pilate also condemned Jesus to die. We meet Pilate in this study. Read John 18:28—19:16.
- What do you notice about Pilate as you read this passage?
- How do the Jewish leaders reveal their hypocrisy by refusing to enter the home of Pilate, a Gentile (18:28)?
- A Roman trial included four basic elements: the accusation, the interrogation (search for evidence), the defence, and the verdict. What events or statements from the text are included in each?
- the accusation (18:28-31)
- the interrogation (18:32-35)
- the defence (18:36-37)
- the verdict (18:38)
- Pilate’s statement “What is truth?” (18:38) seems strikingly current. How do you find yourself confronted by unbelievers with this question?
- Pilate obviously was trying to release Jesus. What specific attempts did he make (18:39—19:16)?
- How does it make you feel when you read the record of injustice done toward Jesus?
- What can you conclude about Pilate’s character after reading this passage?
- The Jews’ true charge against Jesus comes out in 19:7—“He claimed to be the Son of God.” Why do you think Pilate reacted to that statement as he did (19:8-9)?
- Why didn’t Jesus say more to Pilate (19:9-11)?
- What parallels can you draw between the crowd’s threats toward Pilate (19:12) and the world’s attempts to detour Christians from fully following Christ?
- The message of the gospel is that Jesus took upon himself the condemnation that we deserve. In what specific ways do you see Christ’s grace demonstrated in his trial before Pilate?
- What does this passage tell you about how to respond when you are treated unjustly?
Ask God to help you follow Jesus’ example of grace when you are under pressure.
Now or Later
Return to Peter’s denial. John’s account is in 18:15-18, 25-27. Let this text be a source of prayer and reflection. Imagine yourself in Peter’s situation. Who in your world is questioning you about your relationship with Jesus? How do you respond? Ask God to show you if there are ways in which you are denying him.