Questions From Readers
▪ Was Jesus referring to Judas when he told Pilate: “This is why the man that handed me over to you has greater sin”?—John 19:11.
It does not seem that Jesus was here referring to Judas or to any other particular man. A number of culpable men were involved in the events leading up to Jesus’ being before Pilate and facing death.
Likely, Judas comes to mind first because that corrupt apostle turned traitor. (John 6:64, 71; 12:4-6) Judas met with the chief priests, who wanted “to get rid of” Jesus. They paid Judas 30 pieces of silver to betray him. (Luke 22:2-6) Unquestionably, then, Judas had great sin respecting Jesus’ death.
But Judas alone did not bring about Jesus’ death. The high priest Caiaphas had instigated others to have Jesus killed. (John 11:49, 50) Matthew relates that once “the chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin” had condemned Jesus, they acted as a group. “All the chief priests and the older men of the people held a consultation against Jesus so as to put him to death. And, after binding him, they led him off and handed him over to Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 26:59-65; 27:1, 2) Furthermore, after Pilate had found Jesus innocent, “the crowds” asked that Barabbas be released. In contrast, regarding Jesus they cried: “Let him be impaled!”—Matthew 27:20-23; John 18:40.
So Jesus likely was not speaking about one specific individual when he said to Pilate: “The man that handed me over to you has greater sin.” (John 19:11) Though Judas, “the son of destruction,” bore particularly heavy guilt, many others shared guilt for the sin of killing Jesus. (John 17:12) That is why on the day of Pentecost the apostle Peter called on the Jews to repent of their grave sin against the Son of God. (Acts 2:36-38) Such Jews were part of a nation dedicated to Jesus’ God, Jehovah. They had available to them the prophecies that identified Jesus as the Messiah. And many of them saw Jesus’ miracles. So they certainly were more guilty of sin than was a non-Jewish official who pronounced Jesus innocent.—John 18:38.
▪ What was the point of Jehovah’s telling Ezekiel that his face was to be hard, like the faces of the Jews?
Ezekiel was a prophet of God, serving among the Jews who had been taken captive to Babylon. These captives evidently thought that Jehovah would somehow come quickly to their rescue because they were his chosen people. They did not accept the fact that what they had experienced came upon them because they merited his disfavor.
So when Jehovah directed Ezekiel to “speak with my words to them,” it was not an easy assignment. In preparing the prophet, God warned that “they will not want to listen to you, for they are not wanting to listen to me; because all those of the house of Israel are hardheaded and hardhearted.”—Ezekiel 3:4, 7.
At this point God told Ezekiel: “Look! I have made your face exactly as hard as their faces and your forehead exactly as hard as their foreheads. Like a diamond, harder than flint, I have made your forehead. You must not be afraid of them.”—Ezekiel 3:8, 9.
The people were obstinate and rebellious. (Ezekiel 2:6) Would they be able to overcome or intimidate God’s messenger? No. Since he had God’s backing, Ezekiel was not going to be softer than they were. Flint is a very hard stone, harder than steel. If the stubborn, unresponsive Jews could be compared to flint, so could Ezekiel. Even more, he was to be like diamond, the hardest of minerals; it is so hard that it can scratch even flint.—Jeremiah 17:1, 2.
This certainly does not mean that God’s people today should consider it desirable to be tough, insensitive to another’s feelings, or even ruthless in doing what they feel is right. Note what the apostle Peter urged as to interpersonal dealings: “All of you be like-minded, showing fellow feeling, having brotherly affection, tenderly compassionate, humble in mind, not paying back injury for injury or reviling for reviling, but, to the contrary, bestowing a blessing.”—1 Peter 3:8, 9.
Compassion is also one of the underlying motives in our sharing the good news of the Kingdom with others. (Matthew 9:36-38) But when we encounter indifference, rejection, or outright opposition, we will not cease proclaiming God’s message for our time. That includes proclaiming that soon he will bring “vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) We must not be intimidated or hold back. In this sense we can be as diamond-hard as Ezekiel had to be.