• Post comments:0 Comments

After working out the charges they would use to prosecute Jesus to the Roman governor in the middle of Wednesday night, the Jewish Sanhedrin met early on Thursday morning of Passion week and condemned Jesus to death (Mar 15:1, Luk 22:66ff).  As the Passover would begin later that day followed by two consecutive sabbaths for the first day of Unleavened Bread on Friday and then the seventh day Sabbath on Saturday, time was of the essence to have Him put to death before His supporters had an opportunity to find out what was happening and riot for His release.  And so they immediately took Him to Pilate at the Praetorium, who came out to them since they would not enter lest they defile themselves and be unable to eat of their Passover (Joh 18:28-29).  Discerning almost immediately that Jesus was not guilty of the charges presented against Him, Pilate was seeking some way to release Him, but at the same time didn’t want to cause a rift with the Jewish leaders whose assistance he needed to rule peacefully over the Jews, and so was also looking for some way to appease them, especially at the time of the Passover.  Having learned from their insistent accusations that Jesus was from Galilee, which was under Herod’s jurisdiction, and with whom he was at odds for perhaps a similar conflict of authority (Luk 13:1, 23:12), he saw a way not only to potentially avoid this difficult situation, but to smooth things over with Herod, which in fact it did as a type of the way Christ’s death would break down the barrier of the dividing wall and establish peace between Jew and Gentile in His body, the Church.

Herod had been hearing about Jesus’ miracles and had wanted for some time to see Him and learn for himself who He was (Luk 23:8), likely in order to determine what threat He might be to his own worldly kingdom.  He was therefore glad to finally have the opportunity and questioned Jesus at some length.  But as Jesus answered him nothing, he came to clearly understood that He was no threat to his kingdom, much less the Roman empire.  So after treating Him with contempt he sent Him back to Pilate (Luk 23:8-11).  From Luke’s narrative, what events were a part of Jesus’ second trial before Pilate after His return from Herod?  See Luk 23:13-25.  Even allowing for a speedy conclusion to Jesus’ trial early in the morning before the Sanhedrin, approximately how long would it have taken for all of the following events to take place?

  • Jesus is led first to Pilate;
  • Pilate hears the Jewish leaders’ accusations and sends Him on to Herod;
  • Herod questions Him “with many words”, treats Him with contempt, and returns Him to Pilate;
  • Pilate summons Jesus and further questions Him (Joh 18:33-37);
  • Pilate seeks to release Jesus according to what had become customary at the Passover (Joh 18:38-39);
  • Pilate hears from his wife to have nothing to do with Jesus (Mat 27:17-19);
  • Pilate has Jesus scourged and the soldiers weave a crown of thorns and put it on Him and mock and beat Him (Joh 19:1-3, Mat 27:20-31);
  • Pilate presents Him before the people, continues to seek His release, and questions Jesus again as if stalling as long as possible (Joh 19:4-13).

See Joh 19:14 and note that the NAS text note indicating the sixth hour as perhaps 6 a.m. is clearly incorrect and the sixth hour would have been around noon, as indicated by the NIV, NET, and NRS.  Cf. Mat 27:45 and see also Joh 1:39 where the tenth hour would seem to be in the afternoon, indicating that John is reckoning from day break, and Joh 4:6 that also mentions the sixth hour and from the following context seems to have been about noon, not 6 a.m. or 6 p.m.  However, see also Mark 15:25 that says it was the third hour, i.e., 9:00 a.m., when Jesus was crucified; how do we reconcile this seeming discrepancy?  See Mat 20:1-6 and observe that unlike our more precise reckoning of time made possible by clocks and watches, people at that time reckoned time very imprecisely by our standards and mostly by the quarter day.  Thus, saying it was the third hour didn’t necessarily mean that it was about 9 a.m. according to our precision, but could also be understood as anytime during that third hour time interval that began around 9 a.m., similar to the way that Mark describes Jesus coming to the disciples walking on the sea “about the fourth watch of the night” (Mar 6:48), but that Matthew describes as “in (i.e., during) the fourth watch” (Mat 14:25).  Hence, Mark’s description that “it was the third hour” should be understood as the quarter day interval of time that began around 9 a.m. and ended around noon, which corresponds to John’s description that it was “about (i.e., approaching) the sixth hour”.  We should also observe that in light of John’s emphasis of Jesus dying at the time they were sacrificing the Passover lambs, he had a theological reason for mentioning the sixth hour, since it was at that time that they began sacrificing the Passover lambs in order to accommodate the multitudes who filled Jerusalem for the celebration.  In consideration of the two accounts, we therefore surmise that the events on the morning of Jesus’ crucifixion likely took four to five hours, which is a reasonable estimate for all the events described, and that the time Jesus was actually raised upon the cross was late morning, perhaps around 11 a.m. by our reckoning.

Leave a Reply