Mark 15:1-5 (ESV)
1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.
Pilate was the Roman high official over Judea, where Jerusalem was located, at the time of Jesus’ trial. The ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, recorded that when Pilate first took his post in Judea, he brought political banners with Caesar’s image into Jerusalem. The Jews were livid and protested for days. Later, Pilate took money from the Jewish temple to pay for an aqueduct. The Jews were again enraged, and many protesters died at the hand of Pilate’s troops. Pilate was eventually removed and replaced because of violence in Samaria as a result of his leadership decisions. So Pilate was considered to be harsh, and he disdained the Jews. He normally didn’t live in Jerusalem, but he would go there to keep order during large events like the Passover. Now the chief priests brought Jesus across town to Pilate as soon it was morning because the Romans usually did their legal business as early as possible, taking the afternoons off. Pilate, the final authority when it came to sentencing a criminal in Jerusalem, wanted to hear what Jesus had to say about all this. He asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” If Jesus tried to rule as the King of the Jews, this would create problems for Rome. But Jesus never sought to overthrow the government. His kingdom is not of this world. Jesus replied with, “You have said so.” The response of Jesus was so vague that Pilate was amazed. Why wouldn’t Jesus try to defend himself? His life was on the line!
The Greek word used for “amazed” means to be “extraordinarily impressed” or “disturbed” by something. Pilate just couldn’t understand why Jesus would remain silent. This was Jesus’ chance to defend himself. Little did Pilate know, Jesus could have called down legions of angels, or done whatever he wanted, even destroyed Pilate and all of Rome in an instant. But he endured the persecution and suffering that God willed for him so that we might be redeemed. Have you been slandered, wrongly accused, or charged with something falsely? There is a time to speak up, and there is a time to be silent. Like Jesus, we must always consider the greater good. When persecuted, will God be most glorified by our words, or by our silence? As redeemed people, we are called to imitate Jesus. Following Jesus may be hard some of the time, but it is right all of the time.