Mt. 27:14 π Mk. 8:31 π Mk. 15:2-5 π Lk. 23:6-12 π Jn. 18:33-38 π Jn. 19:4-8 π Jn. 19:9 π Jn. 19:10-12 π Jn. 19:12 π Jn. 19:13-16 π 1 Cor. 2:8 π Heb. 12:2
When Jesus was brought before Herod and Pilate, we can be certain the principalities assigned to Israel and Rome were on full alert status. Before both Herod, the Jewish king, and Pilate, the Roman governor, Jesus remained silent throughout the official proceedings. ( Mt. 27:14 ; Mk. 15:2-5 ) Herod gave up in disappointment rather quickly and sent Jesus back to Pilate. (see Lk. 23:6-12; top ) When Jesus is returned to Pilate and the Jews begin to apply pressure on Pilate to crucify Jesus, we read,
Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself on this, or did others tell you this about Me?”
Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
Jesus answered, “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.”
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.” ( Jn. 18:33-38; top )
Jesus broke His silence and answered Pilate in what appears to be a more private, perhaps more unofficial moment. Why? Was Jesus bargaining for His own life? No, He knew what was coming and He was determined to go the whole way. (see Mk. 8:31 ; Heb. 12:2; top ) He was reaching out to Pilate! He told Pilate the way out of his personal demonic bondage - embrace truth. Pilate’s question, “What is truth?” betrays perhaps his hard-boiled Roman cynicism but his persistent defense of Jesus, “I find no fault in Him,” tells us that Jesus’ Person, presence, demeanor and few words had penetrated at least to some degree the darkness in Pilate’s heart. Let us read on.
[Pilate tries to release Jesus but, at the insistence of the Jews, releases Barabbas, an insurrectionist, instead. Then he has Jesus beaten and clothed in purple and the crown of thorns placed on His head.]
Pilate then went out again, and said to [the Jews], “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.”
Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid... ( Jn. 19:4-8; top )
The light is shining very brightly now. Whether Pilate fully understood the Jewish monotheistic God or looked upon Jesus in a Roman polytheistic way, Pilate knew that Jesus was more than an ordinary man - and he was afraid because he had to sentence Him to death to appease the Jews. He was trapped between the truth of Jesus’ deity and the pressure the Jews were putting on him. As we read on, let us notice what angle the Jews use to push Pilate past his reluctance to execute Jesus.
...[Pilate] went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. ( Jn. 19:9; top )
Again, Jesus is not concerned with His own life. Pilate has the information he needs. He knows Jesus is God and that the Jews are wrong. Jesus sees no need to say anything further in this regard.
Then Pilate said to [Jesus], “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
From then on Pilate sought to release Him... ( Jn. 19:10-12; top )
Our Lord is so gracious! Pilate is struggling with his conscience and Jesus, rather than condemn Pilate for executing Him, lays the greater burden of guilt on the Jews and on the demonic operating behind the scenes. A lesser man - especially one bargaining for his own life - would have manipulated Pilate’s guilty conscience and secured his own release. But not so with Jesus. Jesus knows He must go to the cross and die. Pilate is just caught in the middle, neither guiltless nor completely responsible - merely a pawn in the war between God and Satan.
...but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.” ( Jn. 19:12; top )
The demonic beings stirring up the crowd see that Jesus’ claim to deity and His gracious demonstration of love and mercy is only making Pilate defend Him more. So they press another button - a button that has been pushed over and over again as the principality behind Pilate felt it necessary or beneficial for Satan’s cause. The demonic beings seeking to kill Jesus shift the focus to the principality’s “strong suit,” loyalty toward Caesar and Rome, an area where their control was more certain.
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
So he delivered Him to them to be crucified. ( Jn. 19:13-16; top )
Whether Pilate finally agreed with the Jews’ assessment of Jesus as a traitor against Caesar or he feared what Caesar might do to him if he didn’t execute this One the Jews proclaimed as a traitor to Caesar, the result is the same. Jesus is condemned to die. The light of Christ had penetrated Pilate’s heart to some extent but did not break through the darkness the principality had built up in Pilate’s soul. Loyalty to Caesar and Rome - the central focus of the work of the principality assigned to Rome - was more important to Pilate than this Person of truth.
We know, however, who really won the victory that day. Paul wrote,
...none of the rulers of this age knew [the hidden wisdom of God]; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. ( 1 Cor. 2:8; top )
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