Mark 15:1-5 (NIV): Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate. “Yes, it is as you say,” 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.
Even though the Sanhedrin didn’t know it, they were walking right into the path of the prophecy God had given about how the Messiah would die. This was true even to the point that when they found Jesus guilty of supposed blasphemy, they didn’t simply take Him out and stone Him to death, according to the law (cf. Leviticus 24:13-17). Instead, He was taken to Pilate so that they could convince him to crucify Him (just as it was prophesied).
One of the first accusations that they brought before Pilate was that Jesus had claimed to be the Messiah, who was also widely believed to be the legitimate king of the Jewish people (cf. Luke 23:2), and who would thus presumably stir up the people to revolt against Roman rule. This stirring up of the people was the crime of sedition, a capital offense. But when Pilate followed up this accusation by asking Jesus directly, “Are You the king of the Jews?” Jesus simply answered, “Yes, it is as you say.” The Messiah really was the king, but at the same time, Jesus knew that His kingdom was not an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly one. (John 18:36) Pilate had seen sedition before, and he had seen people trying to stir up rebellion against Rome. But in Jesus attitude, in His voice, Pilate could see none of that.
When that accusation didn’t seem to gain any traction, the chief priests began reeling off other accusations against Jesus, trying to find anything that would lead Pilate to condemn Him. Just as in the Sanhedrin, they hoped to overwhelm the legal system with the sheer volume of the accusations. But, just as He did earlier, Jesus did not answer a single false accusation against Him. That was because at this point in the process, Jesus had placed His entire fate in the hands of His Father. He was now simply going along for the ride as God moved events forward, answering to confirm true statements, but feeling no obligation at all to defend Himself against lies.
This was amazing to Pilate. In any other case like this, the accused would have been struggling to defend himself against every charge, trying to save their own lives. But ever since Gethsemane, Jesus had already surrendered His life – He had nothing to defend except the truth of who He was.
Father, this is an amazing thought, and very applicable to today. So often we end up allowing ourselves to be put on the defensive over what we believe, and how we apply those beliefs in our lives. We become defensive because we are trying to defend our lives, our lifestyle, our beliefs, or our reputation. But if we have already given ourselves up to You as a living sacrifice, there is nothing for us to defend except the truth. And that frees us up to ignore the many things that the antagonists of the gospel throw at us to try to overwhelm us, and frees us up to simply speak the truth at the appropriate time. Help us, Lord, to make this commitment, this sacrifice, so that we can walk in Jesus’ steps, even in this. Amen.