I suppose there are a lot of lessons at that point, but one obvious lesson is that we cannot stand in the great crises of life successfully and do the right thing apart from the help of God himself. You see, Pilate had everything going for him. He was the governor, after all. He had the legions of Roman soldiers at his call to do what he wanted. If he decided that Jesus was innocent and had had the courage to stand by that, why, nobody could have touched Jesus. He could have kept him from any harm. Besides all this, he was even warned, and yet he failed.
The second thing about his conduct as the Gospels report it, in addition to his opening the case, is that he conducted the trial in a manner utterly above reproach. According to Roman law you first of all had to have an accusation. There had to be a formal charge, meaning you couldn’t simply have a fishing expedition to find something to accuse someone of. That’s what the Jewish court had tried to do the night before. You couldn’t do that in a Roman court of law. And, of course, you weren’t supposed to do it in a Jewish court of law either. There had to be a formal charge, and finally they made it.
I have titled this study “Jesus and Pilate: God in the Dock.” That word dock is a British term which refers to the box in which the accused stands during the conduct of his trial in a British court. So “God in the Dock” means that God has subjected himself to human judgment.
Our study of the encounters that the Lord Jesus Christ had with the people of his day has lastly brought us to the story of the trial of Jesus conducted by the Roman governor Pilate. There were actually two trials. There was the Jewish trial and the Roman trial, and each of those trials had three parts. So there were six segments of the trial leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. All of this was squeezed into a very short span of time.
Are you really born again? I am convinced that there are many pastors who are not born again. One of the great sermons in America, perhaps second only to Jonathan Edwards’ sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” was preached here in Philadelphia by the Presbyterian minister named Gilbert Tennent. It was preached under the title, “The Dangers of an Unconverted Ministry.” Tennent attacked the ministers of his day claiming that they occupied the pulpits and they preached spiritual things, but they were not born again. And it was in part as a result of that sermon that we had aspects of the Great Awakening in this city and elsewhere on the Eastern seaboard.
The Alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars, and churchmen who hold the historic creeds and confessions of the Reformed faith and who proclaim biblical doctrine in order to foster a Reformed awakening in today's Church.