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BACKGROUND: For this study, divide into groups of 2 or 3 people. Each group discusses one or two sections of the passage, and then shares its findings from the text.

As governor of Judea in 26-36 AD, he represented the occupying forces of Roman Empire and was accountable to Emperor Tiberius himself. Pilate did not want the emperor to hear any rumors about Jewish rebellions. It was his right to pronounce a death sentence or withhold it. 

Verses 1-15

  • What is your impression of the character of Pilate from this text? (For example, what was his set of values?)
  • What do you think about a judge who asks questions like the ones in verses 12 and 14 during a trial?
  • Why didn't Pilate use the authority he had but let others make decisions for him?
  • What do you think Pilate really felt about Jesus? (Why did he call Jesus "king of the Jews" twice? Verses 9 and 12.)
  • Compare these two men with each other: the Roman governor and the king of the Jews. What is the difference between them?
  • Who settled this legal case in the end?
  • How do you think Pilate felt when handing Jesus to be flogged and crucified (vs.15)?
  • How do you think Pilate tried to pacify his conscience?
  • If you were in Pilate's shoes that morning, how would you have handled the case?

A murderer and a leader of a political rebellion, his name simply means the son of a father. 

Verses 6-15

  • Imagine what kind of childhood, youth and manhood this man had. What had perhaps made this man a revolutionary and a murderer?
  • If your circumstances had been different, do you think you yourself could have become a murderer? Why or why not?
  • What kinds of thoughts do you think were going through the mind of this man on death row? (Do you think he regretted anything?)
  • Do you think Barabbas went to see the death of the person who was nailed to the cross instead of him?
  • In what way are we all like Barabbas in relation to Jesus?

There was usually only one chief priest at a time, but in this case there were two: Caiaphas, the chief priest proper in the years 18-36 AD, and his father in law Annas, who held the post earlier. He still used his influence through his son in law. 

Verses 1-15

  • What do you think the chief priests regarded as their great calling in life?
  • Why did the chief priests envy Jesus?
  • Why didn't the chief priests recognize their own motives?
  • Which crime do you think was worse: the judicial murder committed by the chief priests or the murders Barabbas committed during the rebellion?
  • How is it possible for a deeply religious person to become a tool in the hand of the devil?
  • Do you think you resemble the chief priests in some way? If you do, in what way?

They cried "Hosanna" to Jesus the previous Sunday. Now they were shouting: "Crucify him!" There must have been some in this crowd who had personally been helped by Jesus. 

Verses 8-15

  • Why did the crowd want a dangerous murderer to be set free?
  • How could the people let themselves be turned against their benefactor? (Why wasn't there even one voice for Jesus and against the manipulation of justice in this situation?)
  • What would you have done if you had been in the crowd that morning?
  • Do you think something like this could happen in our country in our day? Give your reasons.
  • What does this text teach us about the good and bad sides of democracy?
  1. JESUS

He says one sentence during the whole trial (vs.2). Otherwise he is silent. 

Verses 1-15

  • Until this moment Jesus refused any title except "Son of Man". Why does he now admit publicly that he is the king of the Jews (vs.2)?
  • Why doesn't Jesus defend himself?
  • Compare Jesus with the others in this text. How is he different from them? (What makes Jesus so admirable, especially considering his situation?)
  • How do you think Jesus felt about people around him?
  • Who settled the case of Jesus during his trial: Pilate, God or Satan?

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