Family Study: Matthew 27:1-14


Trial Before Pilate, 27:11-14

The other gospels, in their description of the trial before Pilate, include some details not given by Matthew (cf. Mk 15:2-15; Lk 23:2-25; Jn 18:28-19:16). As Luke 23:6-12 indicates, Pilate, after a preliminary hearing of the case and on learning that Jesus was of Galilee, as a friendly gesture, sent Him to Herod, who was in Jerusalem at the time. Herod, after encountering complete silence from Jesus, sent Him back to Pilate to be judged. Jesus had three Roman trials, first before Pilate, then before Herod, and then again before Pilate. Matthew, Mark, and John combine the two trials before Pilate.

According to Luke 23:1-2, the trial began with various accusations being leveled against Jesus, including that He perverted the nation, forbade to give tribute to Caesar, and claimed that He was a king. It is at this point that Matthew begins his record because of the special interest in the gospel of Matthew in Jesus Christ as King.

Pilate asked Jesus, according to Matthew 27:11, “Art thou the King of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “Thou sayest,” in other words, affirming that it was true. The full conversation between Jesus and Pilate is recorded in John 18:33-38. From John’s account, it is evident that Pilate explored fully the possibility that Jesus was a king who might threaten his rule and satisfied his mind that there was nothing to the charge. His conversation with Jesus ended up with the philosophical question, “What is truth?” According to John 18:38, Pilate at this time declared Jesus innocent in the words, “I find in him no fault at all.”

After Jesus was pronounced innocent, the chief priests and scribes renewed their vehement accusations, in reply to which Jesus was completely silent. As Lenski points out, this is the second important silence of Christ, the first being in Matthew 26:63 and the third in John 19:9. Pilate marveled that Christ could keep silent under the circumstances. The fact is that after Pilate pronounced Him innocent, Jesus was under no obligation to answer the Jews further; and, if more investigation was required, it was up to Pilate to reverse his former judgment and continue the examination. It was in the course of further accusation by the chief priests and the scribes that Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee and used this as an occasion to refer the whole matter to Herod.

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Matthew 27:11-14 Breakdown

Jesus and Pilate 11Then Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.”

Jesus was confirming in Greek in the strongest way possible that He was the King of the Jews.

12But when he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he did not respond.

This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53. Jesus was led as a silent lamb to its slaughter.

13Then Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear how many charges they are bringing against you?” 14But he did not answer even one accusation, so that the governor was quite amazed.

Pilate had never seen someone refuse to defend himself.

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