Andrew Lincoln on the Jews, Pilate, and Jesus: Trial!

In Truth on Trial (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2000), Andrew Lincoln brings out the irony of Jesus’ trial in John’s Gospel.  Actually, to begin the irony, it is more a trial of Pilate and the Jews than it is of Jesus (p. 137).  I don’t have the time and space to type it all out, but suffice it to say, Lincoln does a top-notch job of bringing Johannine themes as well as OT themes (mostly Is. 40-55) together in the trial of the ages, Jesus before Pilate and the Jews.

Here’s how he closes the section, discussing how (ironically) the Jews and Pilate are rendered guilty by this trial while Jesus is cleared as judge.

“In effect, the chief priest’s final words [my note: ‘We have no king but Caesar!’] mean that they cease to be the special people of God and become just one of the nations subject to Caesar.  Caesar’s representative in the narrative, Pilate, despite the political power he can employ to toy with ‘the Jews,’ is ultimately shown by his actions to be like the gods of the nations in Isaiah – impotent (cf. Is 44.10; 45.20; 46.7).  As for Jesus, he takes on Israel’s role as the servant-witness: ‘By a perversion of justice he was taken away’ (53.8a).  And the imagery used of his suffering combines with the Fourth Gospel’s Passover imagery: he is ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughter’ (53.7), however, he is enabled to give his back to be struck and not to hide his face from insult and spitting (50.6, cf John 19.1, 3).  Indeed, he can be seen as confuting every tongue that rises against him in judgment (cf. 54.17) and, even though on trial, as the judge who executes justice (cf. Is 42.1, 2, 4)” (p. 133-138).

As I noted several months back on a similar post, when Lincoln writes something on John’s gospel, get it!  See also his commentary on John’s Gospel, in the Black’s New Testament Commentary series.

shane lems

sunnyside wa