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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 1984
  • Online publication date: January 2010

The political charge against Jesus (Luke 23: 2)


The narrative in Mark

The Third Gospel – by contrast with the older Gospel of Mark which Luke used – specifically states the details of the charge which was brought forward against Jesus before Pilate by the members of the Sanhedrin. Mark 15:2 indirectly carries the implication that the members of the Great Council must have declared before the Roman judge that Jesus voiced the claim to be ‘king’. Only if this is the case can Pilate's question, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’, which in the present context has no preparation, be intelligible. Then for the first time it is recorded in 15: 3: ‘And the chief priests accused him of many things.’ At that Pilate once again directs a question to the accused: ‘Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you’ (Mark 15:4b). Jesus, who had responded to the question about his kingly claim with an unequivocal yes (verse 2c), makes no comment on the specific charges of the chief priests; this causes Pilate some perplexity (verse 5). In the following Barabbas scene the procurator's question shows that in the face of the Jewish crowd he would like to proceed on the basis of the issue of Jesus being ‘the king of the Jews’ (verse 9). At the same time however it is remarked that the chief priests had handed Jesus over ‘out of envy’ (verse 10). When the Jews demand the release of Barabbas (verse 11), Pilate asks them: ‘What then shall I do with the man whom you call the king of the Jews?’