As I have watched the NBC mini-series “AD The Bible Continues” (www.nbc.com/ad-the-bible-continues), I noticed that there were three main characters in the first episode: (1) Pontius Pilate, (2) Caiaphas the High Priest, and (3) the disciple Simon Peter. To me these three characters portray three types of individuals.
First of all, let’s begin with the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. As governor of Judea and Samaria, Pilate bore the responsibility to maintain civil order by keeping the Jews in line with Roman law. Under his authority, the Jewish Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) was permitted to oversee many of their civil and religious affairs. It appears that the Sanhedrin had the right to execute certain people at certain times. (i.e. – the woman taken in adultery in John 8, and the Christian disciple Stephen in Acts 7) However, in the case of Jesus, the Jewish leaders brought Him to Pilate to be crucified. John 18:31 Pilate said to them, “Take ye him, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32 That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. Many have questioned why the Jews did not conduct their own execution. Mark 14:1 seems to indicate that one reason they did not do so was because of Jesus’ popularity with the people. But behind it all was the hand of God. According to Acts 2:23, Jesus was crucified according to the foreknowledge and predetermined plan of God. Why did God have His Son crucified by the Romans?
1. To Fulfill Bible Prophecy
The traditional means of Jewish execution was stoning which in most cases crushed the victim’s body and broke many of their bones. Yet the Bible says that not a bone of Jesus was to be broken. (see Ps 34:20)
2. To Reveal That Salvation Is Available for Both the Jews and the Gentiles
The Bible says that all (Jew and Gentile) have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (see Rom 3:23). The Bible also teaches us that God loves the world and that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (see John 3:16) We must remember that it was a Roman Centurion who proclaimed – “Surely this was a righteous man.” (Luke 23:47)
3. To Make Jesus a Curse For Our Sin
Deuteronomy 21:22-23 says that those worthy of capital punishment should be hung upon a tree as a symbol of shame. Paul tells us: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them… Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree…” (Gal 3:10. 13)
Though Pilate wanted no part of the crucifixion of Jesus, it was necessary according to God’s perfect plan.
“…Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” (Acts 4:25-28)