October 24, 2011
And Pilate Marveled
“Jesus yet answered nothing;
so that Pilate marveled … and Pilate marveled if He were already dead.”
Mark 15:5, 44
Mark 15 tells us that Pilate “marveled” twice at the Lord Jesus. As accusations mounted, as the virulence of the accusers seemed to rise, and charge after charge was laid against Him, Christ was silent; and Pilate marveled. As a seasoned governor, he had witnessed many men standing before their accusers. Roman law required the accusers to face the one against whom they were bringing charges. On other occasion, Pilate had seen men fight for their lives. Some resorted to threats and intimidation. Others tried persuasive argument; for others still, lying and deceit were their defense against their foes. Perhaps some even suggested bribes or in some way try to manipulate the outcome. But it is very likely none had been silent before His foes. Pilate marveled.
The chapter closes with the account of the death of the Lord Jesus as He “gave up” His spirit. It is very likely that Pilate was startled by the early appearance of Joseph of Arimathaea requesting the body of Christ for burial. When he had inquired from the centurion and confirmed the death, Pilate marveled.
Pilate marveled at a Man Who was able to control His lips and His life; able to control the tongue and the time of death. Why were these two things so unique? The wise man, Solomon reminds us that no man “has power over the spirit to retain (or to dismiss) the spirit, nor hath he power in the day of death” (Eccl 8:8).
Likewise, James reminds us that “the tongue can no man tame” (James 3:8). He characterizes it as an unruly evil, a world of iniquity, and a little member that can destroy vast forests.
Yet here was a Man Who could do what no other could do: control His lips, and control His life. Pilate marveled. We can do better than Pilate: we can marvel … and worship!
1. Did anyone ever die in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life? Is this one reason He dismissed His spirit prior to the death of the two malefactors?
2. Look up the word for “marvel” used in these verses and trace its use in Mark. Find occasions and reasons why men marveled at Christ.
3. Peter tells us that “When He was reviled, reviled not again. When He suffered He threatened not” (1 Pet 2:23). Yet Paul wrote that the Lord Jesus “witnessed a good confession” before Pilate (1 Tim 6:13). While His silence was only part of the “witness,” in what way did the Lord Jesus witness a “good confession” while remaining silent?