Isn’t it ironic that the religious leaders found faults in Jesus that Pilate could not find in Jesus? I was reading the account of the trial of Jesus when this reality hit me hard. It is quite paradoxical because, the one person who should have been most threatened by the claims of Christ couldn’t find any fault in him. The Jews had to go to the extent of guilt-tripping Pilate to yield; “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12).
So Pilate gave in to their demands, not because he found Jesus guilty, but because he found the case and the logic of the Jews compelling. The last thing he wanted to do is seem as if he was not on the same page with Caesar. That would be bad politics. So Pilate made a political decision, to let Jesus be crucified, if only to get the Jews off his back. So, washing his hands of the whole matter, he handed Jesus over into the hands of the Jews. “I am innocent of this man’s blood, it is your responsibility.” (Matthew 27:24).
But the Pharisees seem to have found nothing but fault in Jesus. The irrationality of their stance is seen in how they respond to Pilate’s question, “What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (Matthew 27:23). They did not answer Pilate’s question. It seems they didn’t have any moral or ethical case against Jesus. Their only argument was a legal (law of Moses) one, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” (John 19:7). Jesus seems to be the only person who knew the verdict of the jury even before the trial had begun. The Jews, led by the Pharisees, wanted his blood, even if it would cost them their own, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25).
I find it interesting that the Jews really had no moral case against Jesus. But they had plenty of theological arguments against him. I find it interesting because God himself, just like Pilate, chooses to judge us on a moral code of conduct. Sin in the bible is primarily described in terms of moral failures; “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.” (Galatians 5:19-21). The Jews however, were condemning Jesus based upon the law of Moses, not the Ten Commandments. Instead of being grateful that Jesus healed a blind man, they were offended that he healed on Sabbath. Instead of being grateful that Jesus detested corruption and theft in the temple, they were offended that he called them out.
In this world, we as Christians will constantly find ourselves standing before Pilate’s court. The world is watching us. Please do not be fooled, they are not watching our theology or how eloquently we present the Gospel to them. The world is preoccupied with something else, our lifestyles. Jesus describes our greatest witness as Christians to the world using words such as: “They will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:35) and “By their fruit you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16). These are the only aspects of our faith that the world can see clearly.
We should not be surprised when the world mocks and ridicules our message, but we should be worried if the world begins to question our witness because of the hypocrisy in our actions. Spiritual things cannot be discerned by the unspiritual man, but spiritual fruit can be. The fruit of the spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control” (Galatians 5:22-23)
I don’t know about you, but something tells me that these were the things that Pilate saw in Jesus. And that’s all the world needs to see. They need to see Jesus in us. We are only a light to this world because we have been lit by the greater light of the Son. We are darkness in and of ourselves. Pilate was unspiritual, of course he could not understand their theological argument about Jesus claiming to be the Son of God, so the Pharisees decided to tweak the message, and appealed to the only thing that would disturb Pilate enough to make a decision. Sounds familiar?
Please don’t misconstrue this for a sidelining of the Gospel message. I am not proposing that we replace the Gospel with good moral conduct and acts of social reform. I am all for the preaching of the Gospel. We should preach the Gospel always, of course we should evangelize the unconverted. But don’t expect the world to take you seriously because of your message. That’s why we should not change or edit the Gospel to be more friendly and less offensive to the world. All the world needs to see is our lifestyle, but what the world needs to hear is the Gospel. God has said that there is only one aspect of our faith that will not be offensive to the world, the fruit of the Spirit. Against these, there is no law (Gal 5:23). Ask Pilate, even he couldn’t outlaw the Fruit.
But what I find even more beautiful about Pilate’s words is that they were inadvertently prophetic. Jesus Christ was led off from Pilate’s court to be crucified. He was crucified and died in order to pay the price for our sin. Because of His death, we who believe in Him have been reconciled to God. After three days, He rose again and ascended to Heaven. He is presently seated at the right hand of His Father, interceding for those who have chosen to follow Him through faith, (John 17:9).
To those who are in Christ, Jesus took more than our place, He eclipsed us. Now, whenever the Father looks at those who are in Christ, He doesn’t see our sin, He sees His son. To those who are not born again, the invitation stands. Call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.
One day I will stand before Him, on the day of judgement. The Father will look at me and guess whom He will see? His Son. His obedience. His righteousness. And what will He say?
“I find no fault in him.”
May we strive to live a life that is worthy of such a verdict.
In His service and for His glory,