The Little Voice In Your Head

5 December 2021
Book: Mark

Speaker: Austin Rammell

Audio Download

Bible Passage: Mark 15:1-15

Have you ever had that little voice in your head telling you something is about to go really bad, but you chose to ignore it? #SalvationDawns

The Little Voice in Your Head

Have you ever had that little voice in your head telling you something is off, or something is wrong, or something is about to go really bad, but then you chose to ignore that little voice? All seemed well until the very thing that little voice was telling you ended up being right!

 

We all have tons of stories in our life of little things and big things that could have been avoided if we had just not ignored that little voice! We have stories of positive outcomes we could have likely achieved if we had just listened to that voice!

 

In our study through the book of Mark, we arrive at just such a story. A man named Pilate had a little voice telling him something wasn’t right, something was off, this Jesus guy was not guilty of what He’s being accused of; Pilate believed and clearly stated that Jesus was innocent. However, he ignores those voices and world history records the results. 

 

Now, it was Christ’s plan to go to the cross and die so I’m not suggesting a better outcome could have occurred if Jesus wasn’t crucified, as a matter a fact, there could be no greater outcome than His death and resurrection because both are necessary for our salvation – there was no other way!

 

However, for Pilate, he stood at the cusp of opportunity. The little voice in his head was at work, yet he didn’t listen. Let me walk you through today’s passage and tell you Pilate’s story of ignoring that little voice. 

 

I’m then going to finish up by taking a quick look at a New Testament passage that helps us understand which little voice in our head to listen to, because if you’re like me, there are numerous ones coming from all kinds of different angles! 

 

There are two clues in Mark 15:1-15 that show us Pilate had a “little voice” in his head telling him not to execute Jesus.

 

Pilate realized that Christ’s demeanor and response to his questions were not those of a revolutionary trying to overthrow Rome. (15:1-5)

 

Here’s what Mark records about the interrogation.

 

1 And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole Council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. 

 

There are a couple of things to set the stage. First, The fifth Roman governor of Palestine, Pontius Pilate bore the official title “Prefect,” and his residence was at Caesarea Maritima. At Jewish festivals, and especially at the Passover when pilgrims streamed to the temple and religious fervor ran high, the presence of the governor was required in Jerusalem. There, Pilate presumably lodged at Herod’s Palace on the western wall of the city. Jesus’ appearance can be imagined there, since the Praetorium (15:16) was probably located in Herod’s Palace.”1

 

This provided a real-life opportunity for the religious leaders to complete their goal of having Jesus executed that day – Friday. They needed to get Jesus before Pilate and Herod and during the Passover, they were both literally living in the same building. Herod’s Palace was so big that historians say it had 100 guest rooms! 

 

But why were they working so fast to get Jesus executed? Well, you may recall that Jesus was arrested Thursday night/Friday AM outside the city in a place called the Garden of Gethsemane. Under the shroud of darkness, the religious leaders of Israel then had Jesus brought to the High Priest’s home and pulled an all-nighter to hold a totally illegal trial that had a predetermined outcome of declaring Jesus worthy of execution. For more on all that, check out my sermon from two weeks ago. 

 

I don’t have time to get into the details, but the reason for the expediency was that every hour it took them to get Jesus executed, was another hour of opportunity for Christ’s followers to organize a counter-protest and expose the unjust process the Jewish leaders had just done. Add to that it was Friday and they felt the pressure of the Sabbath laws coming at them. 

 

They knew they couldn’t get away with doing all this then, and thus if they didn’t get it done first thing Friday morning, they risked an entire day for people to get organized and expose them! Every passing hour was a threat to their goal of having Jesus executed and therefore speed was essential. 

 

So, Roman legal proceedings began at daybreak, for by mid-morning Roman patricians and noblemen embarked on pursuits of leisure.”2 Therefore, they had Jesus there the second Pilate was ready to get started and here’s what happened,

 

2 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” “And he answered him, “You have said so.” (15:2b)

 

Again, if you were with us two weeks ago, Jesus clearly stated to the religious leaders that He was the eternal Son of God (14:62) and upon that confession, they concluded their hearings. Claiming to be the Son of God was synonymous with claiming to be the descendant of David prophesied of in the Old Testament who they believed was going to re-establish the throne of David and be the King of Israel. Therefore, they felt this was the claim they could use to get Pilate to crucify Jesus.

 

The Jews hated the Romans and the Romans knew it. Likewise, the Romans were fully aware that the Jews believed in a prophecy from Daniel that during the first century a Messiah would rise up and lead the Jewish people back to the glory of when David was King, and thus, as such, overthrow the Romans. The Romans knew the religious leaders longed for that day; prayed for that day!

 

Furthermore, a variety of insurrections had taken place against the Romans already, so the Jewish leaders felt they had a rock-solid case to get Jesus executed. They felt if they told Pilate Jesus confessed, he was King of the Jews (which actually didn’t say!), then surely Pilate would want Jesus executed so that he didn’t have to deal with an insurrection, especially during Passover when there was an inflated sense of nationalism and cultural pride. 

 

So, Pilate asks him point-blank to your claim to be King of The Jews? And Jesus essentially says yes!

 

Some scholars believe Christ’s reply is a non-answer, a passive way of deflecting to avoid saying something that could get Him executed. But I disagree. RC Sproul made a great case for what I believe to be true.

 

 “In Mark’s terse record, Jesus’ reply is very simple: “It is as you say.” I think that every translation of this sentence misses the force of Jesus’ reply. When Pilate asked whether He was a King, He basically replied, “You said it!” He was not saying, “Well, you say I am a King, but I do not say that.” No, He was strongly affirming that He is a King.”3

 

As we read in John’s account, Jesus qualified that statement by saying: “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (18:36). Jesus was saying to Pilate, “You have nothing to fear from Me in terms of your political power. My kingdom is not of this world. It is a transcendent kingdom.”4

 

Pilate likely seemed satisfied with Christ’s explanation, but the Jewish leadership had already anticipated this outcome and immediately launched into their case that Jesus was indeed a threat to Rome. Mark tells us next,

 

3 And the chief priests accused him of many things. 

 

Mark doesn’t tell us what these “many things” were, but it was things to show that Christ’s claim to be King of the Jews was a threat to Rome. This is what they spent the night preparing. They had stayed up all night rehearsing the ways they could twist up the words of Jesus to convince Pilate, and Herod as well, that Jesus was a threat to Roman influence and power in the region. Luke however gives us one of the lies they told Pilate to try and convince him.

 

Luke tells us that the Jewish authorities presented this accusation when they brought Jesus to Pilate: “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to pay taxes to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ, a King” (23:2). These obviously false charges were designed to cast Jesus as a revolutionary, angering Pilate. So, Pilate asked: “Is it true? Are you the King of the Jews?””5

 

So, after hearing this and a bunch of other twisted up lies, Pilate then turns back to Jesus and says this,

 

4 And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” 5 But Jesus made no further answer so that Pilate was amazed.

 

Pilate is baffled by Christ’s refusal to answer. We know Christ’s refusal to answer was because He had come to die. He’s God, if He wanted to destroy the arguments of the Jewish leadership He could have, but He came to die!

 

But here’s the point I want to make. To say he was “amazed” is to say the wheels in his head were truly spinning! Pilate had a little voice in his head telling him some things off, something about what this man is being accused of is not adding up, but this man won’t defend himself so how am I supposed to know what that something is?

 

Imagine having somebody before you that was being accused of crimes worthy of execution. The last thing you would ever imagine is that the accused would have nothing to say in their defense! 

 

You would completely expect them to do everything in their power to argue a case for their innocence; offer some rationale to why they shouldn’t be executed; even point blame somewhere else; anything but stand there and say nothing! But, doing nothing is precisely what Jesus did and it totally messed with Pilate’s head. 

 

There was nothing about Jesus that was matching up with the accusations that He was a revolutionary trying to overthrow Roman rule! Jesus clearly had no political or militaristic goals and Pilate knew it! The little voice was shouting! 

 

Because Pilate recognized the innocence of Jesus, he attempted to place the responsibility of His death on the Jewish people. (15:6-15)

 

6 Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. 7 And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. 

 

His name may point to a rabbi (Gk. Barabbas from Aram. bar˒abbā˒ “son of the father”) as his father, and thus to a noble birth. According to John 18:40 he was a robber [can also be translated insurrectionist] (perhaps one of the Sicarii); the term (Gk. lēstḗs) may refer to the zealots’ aim to liberate Israel from Roman oppression (see K. H. Rengstorf, TDNT 4 [1967]: 261–62). The New Testament does not say that he committed a murder (at Luke 23:19 “for murder” may mean that Barabbas was among those “who had committed murder”; cf. Mark 15:5; Matthew calls Barabbas simply a “notorious prisoner,” Matt. 27:16). According to an ancient tradition Barabbas was named Jesus Barabbas. In that case Pilate would have been asking the crowd to choose between Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Barabbas.”6

 

8 And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. 9 And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 

 

“As prefect, Pilate possessed the authority to commute or pardon the sentence of any criminal he chose.”7 Furthermore, it was an annual tradition that Pilate would pardon somebody during Passover.

 

Therefore, being it was a part of the customs at Passover, a crowd had already gathered to participate in who would be pardoned. We don’t know how the religious leaders persuaded them to demand Barabbas, but it’s not hard to imagine that it just involved them shouting out their opinion. 

 

The clothes they wore were unique and as such totally distinguished them as men of the Sanhedrin, men that would be massively respected and followed. These men were not at all despised but rather were revered. So, it’s no surprise the crowd followed their leadership. 

 

But to the point of what I’m trying to get you to see today. Verse 10 tells us, 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.

 

In the first century 50 other men had come along and claimed to be the Messiah and as such claimed to be the King of the Jews, but the religious leaders didn’t take it upon themselves to have these men executed; they didn’t feel the need to present those men as a threat, so why now? 

 

Therefore, as the crowd stood outside and shouted, that little voice in Pilate’s head got a little louder! Pilate knew the religious leaders were just jealous of all the popularity Jesus was getting and that their justification for wanting him executed was corrupt and misleading. “… Envy is grief or anger caused by another’s success.”8

 

Pilate has a voice in his telling him this is off, but he also has the voice of arrogance and disdain towards the Jewish people. He is all over the place, which is why this happens next,

 

12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 

 

Pilate can’t totally remove himself from his arrogance, so he messes with the crowd of Jews that he thinks very little of “your king.” Under no circumstances should we see some kind of internal righteousness at work in Pilate. Pilate is a total self-serving politician who wants nothing else but to do a great job in Palestine so he can get a better assignment somewhere else in the Roman Empire.

 

 Palestine was considered the worst place anybody would have to go! But on the other hand, there is a little voice at work telling him you don’t want to crucify this guy; somethings not right! 

 

So even in his sarcasm and annoyance that led him to toy with the Jewish people, and to satisfy his own view of himself as a superior person, we still find him asking this, 

 

14 And Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 

 

Luke tells us that after hearing all the accusations of the Jews and examining Jesus himself, Pilate came to a verdict: “I find no fault in this Man” (23:4). Likewise, Matthew records an interesting vignette: “While [Pilate] was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, ‘Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him’ ” (27:19). Even after he yielded to the crowd’s desire that Jesus be crucified, Pilate still felt Jesus was innocent. Matthew tells us, “He took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just Person’ ” (Matt. 27:24b). Never in his life did Pilate speak more truthfully than when he said of Jesus, “I find no fault in this Man.””9

 

But Pilate chooses not to listen to the voice telling him somethings off. He chose not to listen to the voice saying Jesus is innocent, and instead listens to a different voice. Here’s how it ends,

 

15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

 

“Pilate was procurator over Judea from ad 26–36 and normally resided in Caesarea, but went up to Jerusalem on feast days in order to be on hand should any trouble erupt. Prior to ad 33 he had commandeered the temple treasury in order to build an aqueduct for Jerusalem; this and other actions had caused bitterness and tension between him and the Jews, so he was anxious to placate them (it seems he may have been under senate investigation at the time of the crucifixion and this may have been an added inducement to cooperate with the Jews).”10

 

A Roman scourging was a frightful punishment. The whip (or flagel) used was braided from leather thongs and interlaced with lead balls and metal and bone spikes. Six soldiers, lictors, wielded these flagels on the prisoner who was usually tied to a column or stake. The severity of the scourging was such that prisoners usually fainted and sometimes died under it. The whipping was applied to the back and chest. Each stroke cut into the quivering flesh until the veins and sometimes the entrails were laid bare; the flagel’s tail would often strike the face, sometimes knocking out teeth and, on occasion, even an eye. The victim was invariably reduced to a bloody mass of quivering flesh, with virtually all strength drained from his body. It was unthinkable to impose two such scourgings on any human being; so for this reason, as well as the complete compatibility of the three Gospel records, the scourgings reported must all be the same event and not two separate events, as some scholars suggest.”11

 

“Flogging was a cruel and merciless preparation for crucifixion. The NT shows no inclination to sensationalize the passion of Jesus by recounting its horrors. Its restraint and discretion, however, may leave modern readers ignorant of the savagery that preceded and attended a Roman crucifixion. As a prelude to crucifixion, Josephus (War 2.306) says the prisoner was stripped and bound to a post and beaten with a leather whip woven with bits of bone or metal. No maximum number of strokes was prescribed. The scourging lacerated and stripped the flesh, often exposing bones and entrails. One of its purposes was to shorten the duration of crucifixion, but scourging was so brutal that some prisoners died before reaching the cross. Women were exempted from either suffering or witnessing the flagellum, which, according to Suetonius (Domitian 11), even horrified the emperor Domitian. It was this terrifying verberatio, flagellation, to which Jesus is delivered in v. 15.”12

 

Now be sure, the blame is completely on Pilate. Pilate was the sole decision-maker. His political ploy to keep the crowds happy and protect his job was clearly also an attempt to justify to himself that he had not killed an innocent man (the Jews did), but that was a total copout. 

 

The Jews had no authority to execute Jesus, only Pilate did, and it was totally up to him. At the end of the day, Pilate refused to listen to the voice in his head telling him Jesus was innocent and instead listened to the voice in his head telling him to protect his reputation and job. He chose the voice of arrogance and selfishness. 

Challenge: How do we know which voice is the right voice? James 3:13-18 gives us great insight!

 

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)

 

How prominent is your feeling of being slighted or unfairly treated? – “bitter jealousy”

 

“bitter jealousy” is feeling slighted or unjustly treated because others have more materials, attention, power/influence, value than you; all of which you feel you at least equally deserve. 

 

How prominent is your passion for personal success? – “Selfish ambition”

 

“selfish ambition” is the desire to better yourself that has yourself as the dominant motive, that is, it decreases the concern over the impact on your marriage, kids, extended family, church, etc., and elevates the impact it has on advancing your desires over everything else.

 

Don’t miss that the results of decisions made with these motives are “disorder and every vile practice” i.e. manipulating a mob to demand the death of your Messiah and flogging and crucifying the Eternal Son of God!

 

Notice how all the following positives contrast with these two negatives.

  • Is the “voice” pointing you to what is morally and ethically right? – “pure”


  • Is the “voice” leading to something that will bring peace to your life AND those around you? – “peaceable”


  • Is the “voice” leading you to objectively consider the counsel of wise and Godly people? – “open to reason”


  • Is the “voice” pointing to an opportunity for vengeance or restoration? – “full of mercy”


  • Is the “voice” pointing to a decision that will have positive long-term results? – “good fruits”

 

Fruit always comes later! Is the decision something for immediate gratification or sustained long-term results?

 

  • Is the “voice” leading you to consider opinions that don’t match yours? – “impartial”


Is the “voice” leading you to be honest about all your motives? – “sincere”

Footnotes

  1. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 455). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  2. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 457). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  3. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 392). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  4. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 392). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  5. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 392). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  6. Myers, A. C. (1987). In The Eerdmans Bible dictionary (p. 125). Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.
  7. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 460). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  8. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 462). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
  9. Sproul, R. C. (2011). Mark (First Edition, p. 394). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
  10. Mills, M. S. (1999). The Life of Christ: A Study Guide to the Gospel Record (Mt 27:2–Jn 18:38). Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries.
  11. Mills, M. S. (1999). The Life of Christ: A Study Guide to the Gospel Record (Mt 27:27–Jn 19:3). Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries.
  12. Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (pp. 464–465). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.