Discover the Book - Apr. 9, 2009


Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas and Jesus

God's Word explains why some of those closest to Christ's Cross missed the blessing. The lives of Herod, Pilate, and Caiaphas speak to us this season—"Don't miss the blessings of the Cross”. Let's heed that warning today! 

Twice each year we celebrate the seasons of Christ's life on earth--first His birth, then His death. That emphasis opens and closes the record God has given us of Christ's life. 

God inspired for us 260 chapters in the New Testament; 89 of them are the four Gospels. So as far as emphasis made by God—the Gospels are more than 1/3rd of the New Testament. 

Within the Gospels, or the record of Christ's life and ministry we find that the Lord placed 30 chapters, or more than 1/3rd of them, that are devoted to the Passion Week of Christ's death, burial and resurrection! Yet only 4 chapters or 5% is devoted to Christ's birth. 

So we remember Christ's life and ministry. Christ's birth and Christ's death; The cradle and the cross. Christ's cross signals that the battle is won. His first coming was complete and the countdown began for His second coming in triumph to rule the earth. 

Christ's first coming was to a manger, surrounded by donkeys, sheep, cattle and goats. At the end of this brief life on Earth He chose a donkey to carry Him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as He presented Himself as the Lamb of God to die for the sin of the world.  

But Christ's 2nd Coming will be on a horse, a pure white stallion thundering through the clouds of heaven with the armies of God following Him. On His head will be many crowns, for He will come back to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.  

Christ's first coming concluded as he was arrested by Caiaphas, brought before Pilate; dragged before Herod; tortured, spit upon, and forced to wear a scarlet robe of mockery.  

But Christ's 2nd Coming will see Caiaphas trembling at His feet, Pilate wringing his hands as he is brought before Him; Herod will be dragged before Him, and all three will bow before the King of the Jews and confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  

Christ's first coming ended alone as the Lamb of God was bound, beaten, and nailed to a bitter rugged cross where He suffered and bled and died alone. He was hurriedly transferred to a borrowed tomb and sealed in. 

The next time He comes He will not be alone. Rather He comes leading the countless hosts of Heaven and the saints of all the ages. His unbound feet will touch down upon the Mount of Olives and split it in half. Those crucified and glorified feet will walk through the eastern gate as He sets up His throne up on the Temple mount. From there He shall reign for one thousand years in the Millennium. Following that will be the Great White Throne Judgment, after which human time shall cease and eternity will begin. 

How different and yet connected are Christ's first and second comings. Both have profound lessons to all who will pause and reflect upon the lives God chose to stretch across the canvas of His Word and to mark as warnings and examples to all who will have ears to hear. 

What is most amazing about both events is that God chooses to give us deeper insights into the people surrounding those events than about any other events in the Scriptures. In both events there are stirring contrasts between those who saw Jesus with verses of love and faith and those who did not. 

There were three notable individuals who were closest to Christ in His final hours and yet who completely missed the benefits of His death, burial and resurrection. These three are well known to us from God's Word; they are Pilate, Herod and Caiaphas. As we open to Matthew 26 this morning, let me survey three lives that lost everything. God left them as warnings to all of us. 

How to Lose Everything! 

First, Roman Procurator Pilate missed it all by default—he was neglectful, disinterested, detached, indifferent, and passive. The second, Herod Antipas, murderer of John the Baptist, son of Herod the murderer of babies, a puppet king who was unqualified to rule God’s people was part of a long line of Christ haters and rejecters. Finally, Caiaphas, the man who stood in the very place of God, the High Priest to represent the entire nation at Passover--missed everything because of an active, defiant, aggressive animosity towards Christ. 

There is a warning here to all of us. From Pilate we see passive unbelief. We don’t have to be opposed to Christ; we can be somewhat interested, strangely fascinated, and even curious—and still fail to experience Him by faith. 

From Herod we can see that long term exposure to Christ and His servants can lead to spiritual blindness if that exposure is unmixed with faith. No family ever had more opportunities to know God than Herod’s. No family ever had such an all star cast of God’s servants (among those who ministered the Word of God to the Herod family were the Magi, John the Baptist, Christ Himself, Paul, James, Peter and so on). And no family more fully rejected the truth than this family! 

From Caiaphas we see the horrors of the fallen sinful heart that we all were born with. Our hearts are deceitful and wicked and if left untouched by God, become so hard that even the Son of God Himself standing before our eyes, does not move us. Beware of sin’s deadening power. Beware of pride’s intoxicating poison. Beware of over-familiarity with God. Only a heart empowered by the Spirit can see its sinfulness, long for cleansing, and offer obedience. 

Sadly these three so close to Christ's cross were so far from God’s love—not because it was not offered, but because they cared not, sought not, loved not, saw not—and had not. 

Don’t let this week pass you by, stop and let the wonder of Christ's love sweep over you. See His innocence and your guilt; His perfections and your sin; His worthiness and your complete unworthiness. Don’t be passively rejecting Him by indifference like Pilate. Don’t be actively rejecting Him by self righteousness like Caiaphas. 

Caiaphas trusted the system; Pilate trusted himself. Caiaphas rejected the One he knew was truth; Pilate sought Him but not with his whole heart. 

At some time in the future our lives will be over. Then the record will be complete as to just what we lived for. Look with me at all that is left on earth of one of the most vivid characters surrounding Christ's Death and Burial--Caiaphas. 

This sermon continues with a closer look at Caiaphas and Pilate. To Read or Hear this entire sermon please copy and paste the following URL into your browser bar:

For more from Discover the Book Ministries, please visit
click here to listen to Dr. John Barnett at