The stony halls of the Praetorium that day must have produced an eerie silence as the two stood facing one another – two rulers with armies stationed in readiness for their command; two powerful leaders whose words would set the course of history. One man, Pilate, boldly exhibited his entitlement to represent the might of Rome. The other, Jesus, humbly revealed his authority to embody the will of Heaven.
Pilate took the role of inquisitor, potentate, and judge. He claimed power over Jesus –power to declare guilt or innocence, power to condemn or to reprieve, power to chastise or exonerate. Jesus claimed sovereignty. Pilate had no power but what God had permitted. Legions of angels would liberate Jesus if he chose to summon them. Jesus took the role of servant, sacrifice, and love.
Pilate, the judge, was himself on trial that day. He could find no fault in the carpenter from Nazareth. However, a non-guilty verdict would not satisfy the dissident crowds who had delivered Jesus to his judgment hall. He was afraid of the Roman emperor to whom he must give an account for the peace of the city. His own position meant more to him than his just dealings with the Son of God. He gave no thought to what the verdict of the generations would be. Pilate was on trial by heaven’s court and found wanting of the reverence of God.
Void of God-fearing stamina to enforce his judgment of ‘not-guilty’, Pilate decided to silence his own voice and let the crowds speak. “Crucify him,” was the verdict. Pilate ordered his soldiers to carry out the decree. Jesus also chose to silence his voice. He would let his Father in heaven speak for him. “Into thy hands I commend my spirit,” Jesus said, and then he died.
The Roman cross and the sealed tomb seemed to validate Pilate’s claim as superior ruler. But then, Sunday morning came. Jesus’ followers arrived at his burial place to find the stone rolled away and the grave empty. The soldiers, which Pilate had stationed to guard the tomb, were powerless to enforce the interment. Jesus had risen just as he had promised. He was alive to never die again. The empty tomb definitively validated Jesus’ claim as reigning, omnipotent monarch.
Within a few years of Jesus’ infamous trial, Pilate himself was disposed from his position as governor and summoned to Rome to be tried concerning a military massacre. His death was accredited to suicide. The dethroned, judged, and deceased ruler was forever silenced.
Throughout history, Jesus has been repeatedly put on trial in the hearts of men, in the courts of politics, in the vain philosophies of humanists. Pilates all. Would-be judges. Self-proclaimed monarchs. Christ’s resurrection still has the power to silence all contenders for right to rule. Jesus is Lord of eternity. He is Champion over death. He is Sovereign in power. He is King of truth. His resurrection proves all His claims. And because of his resurrection, he forever speaks.
Celebrate Easter! Celebrate Christ’s resurrection!