Mark's Gospel

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Jesus before Pilate

(Mark 15:1-20)

All the Gospels portray a Pilate as a man who is most reluctant to condemn Jesus and would have preferred to release him. It is important to place the Gospels back into their original historical context. They were written at a time when the Church was being persecuted both by Rome and by the Jews. It would have been imprudent to lay the blame of Jesus' death directly at the door of the Roman authorities. It would have been more expedient to blame the Jewish authorities.

It is obvious that the Sanhedrin have already brought a political charge against Jesus to the Roman procurator. Pilate opens the interrogation by the direct question, 'Are you the King of the Jews?' to which Jesus replied, 'It is you who say it', and made no further reply.

It seems likely that in the run up to Passover week there had been some uprising against the Roman occupation. During this uprising some rioters had been arrested for murder. These could have been Zealots or patriots. Among them was Barabbas who may have been the leader of the rioters. His open defiance against the Roman authorities would explain his popularity with the crowd. Pilate was willing 'to satisfy the mob'; he released Barabbas and handed Jesus over to be crucified. He was probably influenced by the fact that serious complaints about him had already been sent to Rome, and he could not afford to be tolerant over a charge of treason.

The soldiers in mockery dressed Jesus in the 'royal purple' and a crown of thorns as a substitute for the laurel wreath worn by emperors. The cane with which they beat him became a mock sceptre.

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