Pilate and the Galileans (Lk 13:1-13:1)

“At that very time,

There were some present

Who told Jesus

About the Galileans,

Whose blood

Pilate had mingled

With their sacrifices.”

 

Παρῆσαν δέ τινες ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ ἀπαγγέλλοντες αὐτῷ περὶ τῶν Γαλιλαίων ὧν τὸ αἷμα Πειλᾶτος ἔμιξεν μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν.

 

Luke uniquely said that at that very time (ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ καιρῷ), there were some people present (Παρῆσαν δέ τινες) who told Jesus (ἀπαγγέλλοντες αὐτῷ) about the Galileans (περὶ τῶν Γαλιλαίων), whose blood (ὧν τὸ αἷμα) Pilate (Πειλᾶτος) had mingled (ἔμιξεν) with their sacrifices (μετὰ τῶν θυσιῶν αὐτῶν).  This is a unique passage of Luke that talked about a contemporary event of Jesus.  Apparently, Pontius Pilate, who was rather cruel, had killed some Galileans when they were worshiping at the Jerusalem Temple.  However, there is no other indication about this incident anywhere else, nor is it clear how many Galileans were involved.  What do you think about killing people while they are praying in a place of worship?

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The historical setting (Lk 3:1-3:1)

“In the fifteenth year,

Of the reign

Of Emperor Tiberius,

Pontius Pilate was

Governor of Judea.

Herod was the ruler

Of Galilee.

His brother Philip

Was the ruler

Of the region

Of Ituraea,

And Trachonitis.

Lysanias was the ruler

Of Abilene.”

 

Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου, Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας, καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος,

 

Luke tried to set the public activities of John and Jesus within a larger historical context.  Thus, here he said that it was the 15th year of the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea (Ἐν ἔτει δὲ πεντεκαιδεκάτῳ τῆς ἡγεμονίας Τιβερίου Καίσαρος).  Herod was the tetrarch ruler of Galilee (καὶ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Γαλιλαίας Ἡρῴδου,).  Herod’s brother Philip was the tetrarch ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis (Φιλίππου δὲ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ αὐτοῦ τετρααρχοῦντος τῆς Ἰτουραίας καὶ Τραχωνίτιδος χώρας), while Lysanias was the tetrarch ruler of Abilene (καὶ Λυσανίου τῆς Ἀβιληνῆς τετρααρχοῦντος).  Who and what is this all about?  Tiberius was the Roman Emperor from 14-37 CE.  15 years into his rule would be the year 29 CE.  Pontius Pilate was the Governor of Judea, but also Samaria to the north, and Idumea to the south, from 26-36 CE, so that this time frame is consistent.  Herod Antipas and Philip were the sons of Herod the Great (37-4 BC).  Herod Antipas ruled as tetrarch of northern Galilee and Perea that was east of the Jordan River from 4 BCE-39 CE.  His brother Philip ruled Ituraea and Trachonitis that were north of Galilee from 4 BCE-34 CE.  Finally, some unknown leader named Lysanias ruled as the tetrarch of Abilene that was north of Damascus, but included Lebanon.  Thus, these were all the rulers of the area where John and Jesus might have traveled within this time frame

They deliver Jesus to Pilate (Mk 15:1-15:1)

“As soon as it was morning,

The chief priests

Held a consultation

With the elders,

The Scribes,

And the whole council.

They bound Jesus.

They led him away.

They handed him

Over to Pilate.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων καὶ γραμματέων καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον, δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν ἀπήνεγκαν καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ  

 

This is similar to Matthew, chapter 27:1-2, except that Mark did not mention the decision to bring Jesus to death.  In Luke, chapter 23:1, everybody brought Jesus to Pilate.  In John, chapter 18:28, there was a long discussion of Pilate with the Jewish leaders, after they brought Jesus to Pilate.  However, they had to stay outside the Roman court, so as not to defile themselves during the Passover festival.  Mark said that as soon as it was early in the morning (Καὶ εὐθὺς πρωῒ), after the all-nighter evening meeting at the house of the high priest of Jerusalem, the chief priests (οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς) with the elders or presbyters (μετὰ τῶν πρεσβυτέρων) and the Scribes (καὶ γραμματέων) conferred together or came to a resolution (συμβούλιον ἑτοιμάσαντες).  All of this council, tribunal, or Sanhedrin (καὶ ὅλον τὸ συνέδριον) agreed.  They tied up or bound Jesus (δήσαντες τὸν Ἰησοῦν).  They led him away (ἀπήγαγον).  They delivered him or handed him over to Pilate (καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ).  Whether this was an official meeting or not, they did come up with a conclusion that they would hand Jesus over to the Roman governor of Judea.  Thus, Pilate had jurisdiction over death penalties, since Judea was within the Roman Empire.  Mark did not mention that Pilate was the governor, but this text just assumes that.  Who was this Pontius Pilate?  He was the rather cruel Roman ruler, prefect, or governor of Judea from 26-36 CE, the exact time frame of Jesus.  Interesting enough, a whole literature and artistic presentations of Pontius Pilate developed in the 20th century with movie and TV portrayals of him.  He was certainly a central figure in this presentation about the death of Jesus.

Conclusion: Passion, Resurrection and Great Commission

 

This gospel concluded with the events of the last week of Jesus, a main preoccupation of all four gospels.  Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph.  He held a last supper and prayed to be spared.  He was betrayed by Judas.  Then he was tried by the Jewish leaders and before The roman governor Pontius Pilate.  Jesus was crucified as king of the Jews and mocked by all.  At his death, there was an earthquake, when the veil of the Temple was cut in two, and the saints rose from their tombs.  Mary Magdalene and the other women discovered the empty tomb.  Jesus told them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee.

There was a plot to kill Jesus.  Jesus spoke to his disciples and gave his fourth prediction about the death of the Son of Man.  Then the chief priests and the elders gathered to plot the arrest of Jesus.  However, before that, there was an anointing by the unnamed women in Bethany as she poured oil on Jesus.  Others wanted to know why she was wasting oil.  Jesus said that she had done a good thing by anointing him for burial.  Thus, she would be remembered.  Meanwhile, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.

Then they made the preparations for the Passover.  Where would the Passover be?  There was a house for the Passover meal, as the disciples prepared for the Passover evening meal.  Jesus announced the betrayal.  Who would betray Jesus?  This betrayer would be cursed, as Judas spoke out.  At the Last Supper Eucharist, Jesus said that this was his body and blood with eschatological implications.

They went to the Mount of Olives.  Jesus predicted that the apostles would scatter.  He was going to go to Galilee.  Peter said that he would never desert Jesus.  Then Jesus warned Peter about his desertion, but Peter was adamant that he would never deny Jesus.

They went to Gethsemane as Jesus took his three favorite apostles.  He prayed to his Father while these apostles slept.  There was a second prayer of Jesus, as he came a second time to the sleeping apostles.  He prayed a third time.  Then Jesus woke them up.

Judas arrived and kissed Jesus, as they then seized Jesus.  Someone cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.  However, Jesus told them to put their swords away as the disciples fled.

Jesus went before Caiaphas the high priest, while Peter followed Jesus to the courtyard of the high priest.  They were looking for false testimony.  Finally, two witnesses came forward.  The high priest spoke and Jesus responded.  He called the words of Jesus blasphemy, as they mocked Jesus.  Peter’s denied Jesus three time and then he remembered Jesus’ words.

The elders and Pharisees planned to kill Jesus.  They would deliver Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor.  Meanwhile, Judas repented, but he hung himself.  He returned the pieces of silver to the Temple, but it was used to purchase a graveyard called the Field of Blood to fulfill a prophecy of Jeremiah.

Jesus went before Pilate as he asked him if he was the king of the Jews?  However, Jesus did not respond.  The governor was going to release one prisoner at the festival time.  However, the people wanted the prisoner Barabbas rather than Jesus.  Pilate got a warning from his wife.  Nevertheless, the crowd wanted to crucify Jesus.  Pilate claimed that he was innocent of his blood but the crowds said that his blood be on us.  Barabbas was then released.  Jesus went to the governor’s head quarters where the Roman soldiers mocked him.

They prepared Jesus for the crucifixion.  They got Simon of Cyrene to help with the cross as they went to Golgotha.  They divided his garments and wrote on the cross Jesus, King of the Jews.  There were two robbers who derided and and taunted Jesus, just like the Jewish religious leaders had mocked Jesus.

Darkness fell over the land as Jesus died.  The cry of Jesus was interpreted as a call to Elijah.  They gave him sour wine to drink.  Would Elijah save Jesus?  When Jesus died, the Temple curtain was torn in two.  Tombs opened and the dead rose and appeared in Jerusalem.  He truly was  the Son of God.

There were women from Galilee, especially the women called Mary.  Joseph of Arimathea got the body of Jesus and put it in his tomb as the women called Mary were vigilant.  Meanwhile, there was a gathering with Pilate, since the Jewish religious leaders wanted to have the tomb secure.  Thus, a custodial guard was set up at the tomb.

The two Marys visited the tomb, where there was another earthquake with an angel at the tomb.  The guards were afraid, but the angel speaks to the women to tell them to let the disciples know what happened.  The women left the tomb and Jesus appeared to them.  Meanwhile, the guards told the chief priests in Jerusalem what had happened.  These religious leaders paid the guards to tell everyone that someone stole the body of Jesus while they were sleeping.  Thus, this stolen body story spread.

After the resurrection, the remaining eleven disciples returned to an unnamed mountain in Galilee.  There the post-resurrection Jesus gave them authority in heaven and on earth with his great commission:  They were to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them with a Trinitarian formula.  They were to follow his commandments because Jesus would be with them until the end of time.

Jesus does not respond (Mt 27:12-27:14)

“But when Jesus

Was accused

By the chief priests

And the elders,

He did not answer.

Then Pilate said to him.

‘Do you not hear

How many accusations

They have made

Against you?’

But he gave him

No answer,

Not even

To a single charge.

Thus,

The governor

Was greatly amazed.”

 

καὶ ἐν τῷ κατηγορεῖσθαι αὐτὸν ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίνατο.

τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πειλᾶτος Οὐκ ἀκούεις πόσα σου καταμαρτυροῦσιν;

καὶ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ πρὸς οὐδὲ ἓν ῥῆμα, ὥστε θαυμάζειν τὸν ἡγεμόνα λίαν.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:3-5.  In Luke, chapter 23:9-10, this dialogue took place before Governor Herod Antipas in Galilee, instead of here before Governor Pontius Pilate in Judea.  When Jesus was accused (καὶ ἐν τῷ κατηγορεῖσθαι αὐτὸν) by the chief priests and the elders (ὑπὸ τῶν ἀρχιερέων καὶ πρεσβυτέρων), he did not answer them (οὐδὲν ἀπεκρίνατο).  Then Pilate said to Jesus (τότε λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Πειλᾶτος).  He wondered if Jesus had not heard how many accusations they had made against him (Οὐκ ἀκούεις πόσα σου καταμαρτυροῦσιν).  However, Jesus, did not give any answer (καὶ οὐκ ἀπεκρίθη αὐτῷ), not even to a single charge (οὐδὲ ἓν ῥῆμα,).  Thus, Governor Pilate was greatly amazed (ὥστε θαυμάζειν τὸν ἡγεμόνα λίαν).

They deliver Jesus to Pilate (Mt 27:2-27:2)

“They bound Jesus.

They led him away.

They delivered him

To Pilate,

The governor.”

 

καὶ δήσαντες αὐτὸν ἀπήγαγον καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ τῷ ἡγεμόνι.

 

This is almost word for word in Mark, chapter 15:1, except there was no mention that Pilate was the governor, but just assumes that.  In Luke, chapter 23:1, there is just the simple statement that they brought Jesus to Pilate.  In John, chapter 18:28-32, there was a long discussion of Pilate with the Jewish leaders.  Who is this Pontius Pilate?  He was the rather cruel Roman ruler, prefect, or governor of Judea from 26-36 CE, the exact time frame of Jesus.  These chief priests and elders of the people tied up Jesus (καὶ δήσαντες αὐτὸν).  They led him away and delivered him to Pilate (ἀπήγαγον καὶ παρέδωκαν Πειλάτῳ), the Roman governor (τῷ ἡγεμόνι) of Judea who had jurisdiction over death penalties in the Judean territory, since Judea was within the Roman Empire.  Interesting enough, a whole literature and artistic presentation of Pontius Pilate developed in 20th century with movie and TV portrayals of him.  He was certainly a central figure in this Passion of Jesus presentation.

What is truth?

The Christ story is true because the Bible tells me so.  Like Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator, we ask “what is truth?”  Is this scientific truth?  No.  A peak experience in our life, like falling in love is true, but not scientifically verifiable.  There are different contexts for truth.  There is a difference between truth in court and truth in a laboratory.  There are different kinds of truth.  We say, “So help me, God.”  Stories, like the parable of the Good Samaritan, are true stories, but do we have to say every part happened exactly the way that the gospel story says that it did.  We are influenced by our culture and education.  Thus, we share our culture.  Otherwise there is no trust, only disbelief.  Is truth always black and white?  There are degrees, levels, and kinds of truth.