Harmony of the Gospels


(33) Second Appearance Before Pilate

Scripture: Matthew 27:15-16; Mark 15:6-15; Luke 23:13-25; John 18:39-19:16 (focal passage)

Tom Lowe


(Deuteronomy 21:6-9) And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O LORD, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

Time: Friday of Jesus’ Final Week
Place: Jerusalem

Since the Jews could not execute a person without approval from the Roman authorities, the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate to pronounce the death sentence. Pilate seemed convinced that Jesus was not guilty of anything deserving death and he sought to release Jesus. However, he was more concerned with antagonizing the Jews and running the risk of damaging his own reputation and career. Therefore, when they insisted on Jesus’ crucifixion, Pilate turned Jesus over to be executed.

(Luke 23:13) And  [1]Pilate, when he had called together the chief priests and the  [2]rulers and the people,
(Luke 23:14) Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that  [3]perverteth the people: and,  [4]behold, I, having  [5]examined him before you, have found no  [6]fault in this man  [7]touching those things  [8]whereof  [9]ye accuse him:

A mob led by the Jewish religious leaders rushed Jesus from Herod’s palace to the residence of Pontius Pilate hoping to pressure him into sentencing Jesus to death by crucifixion. This presented Pilate with a problem; because he had failed to act justly by acquitting his royal prisoner, Pilate now found himself trapped. He called a hurried meeting of the Jewish leaders and explained to them that he had been unable to find any evidence of disloyalty on the part of Jesus. If he really believed that, he should have immediately released him and then protected him from the fury of the priests and mob, and reprimanded His prosecutors for presenting false evidence. But, since he was a bad man, he could not show Christ any kindness, and, in addition, he was afraid of displeasing either the emperor or the people. Therefore, since he lacked integrity, instead of dispersing the riotous crowd, he called together the chief priests, and rulers, and people to hear what they had to say. He said, "You have brought this man to me, and, because I have a respect for you, I have examined him in your presence, and have heard all you have alleged against him, and yet I cannot find that he has broken any laws; and besides, you cannot prove the things you have accused him of.’’

(Luke 23:15)  No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and,  [10]lo,  [11]nothing worthy of death is done unto him.

He reminds the mob that King Herod has also interviewed Jesus: "I sent this man to Herod, who is supposed to know more about Him than I do. But what did he do; he has sent him back, and He has not been convicted of any thing, and He doesn’t show any marks that would indicate that Herod was displeased with Him. In his opinion, his crimes are not worthy of the death sentence. He laughed at him for His pathetic appearance and outrageous claims, but he did not classify him as a dangerous man.’’

(Luke 23:16)  I will therefore  [12]chastise him, and release him.

Pilate proposes to release him, since “Nothing deserving of death has been done by Him.” But first he will placate the crowd by severely punishing Him. As Stewart points out: “This sorry compromise was, of course, totally unjustifiable and illogical. It was the poor, fear-driven soul’s attempt to do his duty by Jesus and to please the crowd at the same time. But it did neither, and it is no wonder that the angry priests would not accept that verdict at any price.”
 He will release Jesus if they will agree to it. He ought to have done it without their consent, after all, he didn’t need their approval. He had the authority to do anything he wanted to Jesus. But he was caught in the same snare that is common to many men—that, while justice should take place, they will do an unjust thing, against their consciences, rather than go against public opinion and face criticism from superiors. 

(John 18:39) But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the  [13]passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
(Matthew 27:15) Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
(Mark 15:6) Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
(Luke 23:17)  (For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast.)

It was the custom among the Jews during the Passover to request the release of some Jewish prisoner from the Romans. Pilate seized upon this custom in an effort to please the Jews, who thought the tradition honored the Passover celebration which was to commemorate the nation escaping Egyptian slavery. But it was an invention of their own, and some think that it was an ancient practice that was kept up by the Jewish princes before they became a province of the Roman Empire. However, it was a bad custom, a barrier to justice, and an encouragement to wickedness.

The one released was still considered a criminal, since he was not declared innocent, only pardoned. Pilate attempted to place the responsibility of Christ’s destiny in the hands of the Jews. It must be remembered, however, that each man is personally responsible for his relationship and obedience to Christ or the lack there of.

He proposed to the crowd that he release the king of the Jews? He didn’t make this proposal to the chief priests, because he knew they would never agree to it. He probably had heard how Jesus was wonderfully honored with hosannas, by the common people, only a week earlier as He entered Jerusalem. Therefore, he believed Jesus was the darling of the multitude, and the envy of the rulers. Consequently, he thought they would demand the release of Jesus, and this would bring to a halt the demands and accusations of the prosecutors, and then all would be well.

(Mark 15:7)  And there was one named  [14]Barabbas, which lay  [15bound with them that had made  [16]insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection.
(Matthew 27:16) And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.

Barabbas, who was guilty of rebellion and murder, was probably aware that it was the custom for the Roman Governor to release one Jewish prisoner at this feast time. But did he know he was the prisoner that was put in competition with our Lord Jesus? Matthew called him a notable prisoner; either because he was born into an influential family and was thought by some to be a man of quality, or because he had distinguished himself by something remarkable in his crimes.

Since he was a rebel against Roman rule, he was probably popular with his countrymen. Treason, murder, and robbery were the three crimes that were usually punished by death; and Barabbas was guilty of all three.

(Mark 15:8)  And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them.

The people expected and demanded that Pilate should do what he had done for them in the past. The precedent had been set in the past and was now a tradition for the governor to release one prisoner during the Passover week.

(Mark 15:9)  But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
(Mark 15:10)  For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.

Pilate realized that the chief priests were prosecuting Jesus out of envy, because the people thought more of Him than of them. It was easy to see, when comparing the eagerness of the prosecutors with the lack of corroborating evidence for the charges they made against Him. They were provoked by His goodness, not by any thing bad or disgraceful, but something commendable and wonderful. And therefore, when he heard that Jesus was the darling of the crowd, he thought that he should make his appeal to the people, and not to the priests. He would be glad to rescue Him from out of the priest’s hands, since that would stop the priest’s mouths and remove the danger of an uprising.

(Mark 15:11)  But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.

Precisely how the chief priests moved the people is conjecture, but it probably included special appeals for the rebel as a political and social leader and as a local resident. On the other hand, they agitated the crowd against Christ, because He claimed to be God. They could not offer any factual evidence; therefore, it must have been their awesome power and position that was the determining factor.

So when Pilate gave them a choice between Jesus and Barabbas, they clamored for the latter. The governor was not surprised; he knew that public opinion had been molded in part by the chief priests, who were envious of Jesus.

(Mark 15:12)  And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews?

The unanimous outrageous uproar of the people demanded that Christ be put to death, and particularly to have him crucified. It was a great surprise to Pilate, when he found the people so much under the influence of the priests that they all agreed to ask for Barabbas’ release. Pilate opposed it all he could; "What will ye that I shall do to him whom ye call the King of the Jews? Do you want me to release Him too?’’

(John 18:40) Then  [17]cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
(Luke 23:18)  And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:
(Luke 23:19) (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.)

The people cried out again and again for Barabbas’ release. How foolish and ridiculous they were to demand the release of this robber; a notorious criminal who had been thrown into prison because of rebellion and murder. He broke the law of God as well as the laws of man; and yet he will be spared, and the Son of God will die in his place.

(John 19:1) Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and  [18]scourged him.

Pilate orders Jesus to be scourged as a criminal, hoping that the Jews would accept this rather than execution. He wants to punish Him and then release Him, but there is no justice that can be found in scourging (or crucifying) an innocent man. Perhaps he hoped that this punishment would satisfy the Jews and that they would not demand the death of Jesus.

Scourging was a Roman form of punishment, wherein the prisoner was beaten across the back with a whip or a rod. The whip was made of thongs to which were attached sharp pieces of metal and pieces of bone, and these cut deep gashes in the flesh. Many prisoners died from this cruel punishment.

Pilate took Jesus, and scourged him, that is, appointed the lictors that would do the job. Bede is of opinion that Pilate scourged Jesus himself with his own hands, because it said, “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.” Matthew and Mark mention His scourging after his condemnation, but in John it appears to have been before. However, when He was scourghed is not near as important as the fact that He submitted to this pain and shame for our sakes.
1. That the scripture might be fulfilled, which spoke of Him being stricken, smitten, and afflicted, and the chastisement of our peace being upon him ( [19]Isaiah 53:5). He also predicted that He would be scourged ( [20]Matthew 20:19;  [21]Mark. 10:34;  [22]Luke 18:33).
2. That by his stripes we might be healed ( [23]1 Peter 2:24). We deserve to be chastised with whips and beaten with many stripes, since we know our Lord’s will and not done it. But Christ endured the stripes for us, bearing the rod of his Father’s wrath ( [24Lamentations 3:1).

(John 19:2) And the soldiers  [25]platted a crown of  [26]thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple[27]  robe
(John 19:3) And said,  [28]Hail, King of the Jews! and they  [29]smote him with their hands.

The soldiers mock and torture Christ, and because of His claim to be a king, they force a crown of thorns on His head, causing blood to flow down His face. They hit Him and dress Him like a king.

A crown of thorns would have caused extreme pain as it was pressed onto His brow. Thorns are a symbol of the curse which sin brought to mankind. Here we have a picture of the Lord Jesus bearing the curse of our sins, so that we might wear a crown of glory.

The soldiers dressed Him in a purple robe because purple was the color of royalty. But this should remind us of how our sins were placed on Jesus in order that we might be clothed with the robe of God’s righteousness. The robe itself may have been some old threadbare purple coat which they thought would be good enough to be the symbol of His royalty; and they complemented him with, Hail, king of the Jews, and then they smote him with their hands. The soldiers were having fun with Him; they played a cruel Roman game with Him, called “hot hand.” They could mutilate Him and do anything with Him. All the soldiers would show the prisoner their fists. Then they would blindfold the prisoner and all but one would hit Him as hard as they could. Then they would remove the blindfold, and if the prisoner was still conscious, he was to guess which soldier did not hit him. Obviously, the prisoner could never guess the right one. They would continue this until they had beaten the prisoner to a pulp. I believe the Lord Jesus was so mutilated that you never would have recognized Him. “…his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

Did Thy God e’en then forsake Thee,
Hide His face from Thy deep need?
In Thy face, once marred and smitten,
All His glory now we read.
—Miss C. Thompson

How many soldiers were there? A detachment of Roman soldiers was a cohort (the 10th part of a legion), which numbered about 600 men. This action probably only used a part of the cohort, a much lower number, say 100.
How sad it is to think of the eternal Son of God being slapped by the hands of His creatures! Mouths which He formed are now being used to mock Him!

(John 19:4) Pilate therefore went  [30]forth again, and saith unto them,  [31]Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no  [32]fault in him.

Jesus was aware of all the events coming on Him in the future. He was not taken by surprise, but was a willing voluntary sacrifice ( [33]John 12:14, 17-18). Although He was not armed He was in control of the situation. In the darkness of the night He could have fled, as all of His disciples would soon do ( [34]Mark 14:50). But instead He gave Himself up.

Pilate therefore went forth again has the thought that he went outside to speak to the mob, because the priests would not enter a Gentile’s house, since they would be defiled by doing it and would not be able to eat the Passover meal.

Pilate went out to the mob again and announced that he was about to bring Jesus out to them, and that He was innocent. As a consequence Pilate condemned himself by his own words. If he found no fault in Christ; why didn’t he let Him go? If he found no fault in him, why did he scourge him, and why did he allow him to be abused? If he found no fault in him, why did he bring Him out to his accusers and immediately release him, as he ought to have done?

If Pilate had only listened to his own conscience, he would not have scourged Christ or crucified him; but he did both in order to please the people.

(John 19:5)  Then came Jesus forth, wearing the  [35]crown of  [36]thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man!

Pilate presents Christ dressed in a purple robe, with a crown and a reed. The robe, as well as His face and head, is all bloody from the gaping wounds received from the scourging. I think that if you had seen Him then, it would have broken your heart. He had been beaten within an inch of His life. Don’t think He looked like the artists picture Him.

When he says, “Behold the man,” Pilate clearly states that Christ is no king; He is simply a man.” It is difficult to know whether he said this in mockery, in sympathy, or without any particular emotion.

It is interesting to note that Pilate declares Christ innocent, yet subjects Him to a terrible beating. Little did he imagine with what adoration these sufferings of Christ would receive in the future; and that they would be commemorated by the best and greatest of men, who would glory in that cross and those stripes which Pilot thought could only lead Him and his followers to perpetual and indelible condemnation?

When Jesus appeared before the Crowd, Pilate said; “Behold the man.” It is good for every one of us, with an eye of faith, to behold the man Christ Jesus in his sufferings. Behold this king with the crown of thorns. "Behold him, and be suitably affected with the sight. Behold him, and mourn because of him. Behold him, and love him; be still looking unto Jesus.’’

(John 19:6)  When the  [37]chief priests therefore and  [38]officers saw him, they cried out, saying,  [39]Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.

When Pilate offered to release Jesus, taunting the envious chief priests, the people were primed to ask for Barabbas. The very ones who were charging Jesus with treason against Caesar were asking the release of a man who was actually guilty of that crime! The position of the chief priests was irrational and ludicrous —but sin is like that. Basically they were jealous of His popularity

Even so, the chief priests noticed that Pilate was wavering, so they cried out fiercely that Jesus should be crucified. It was religious men who were the leaders in the death of the Savior. Often, down through the centuries, it has been church officials who have persecuted true believers most bitterly. Pilate seemed to be frustrated and disgusted with them and with their unreasonable hatred of Jesus. He said, in effect: “If that is the way you feel, why don’t you take Him and crucify Him? As far as I am concerned, He is innocent.” Yet Pilate knew that the Jews could not put Him to death because that power could only be exercised by the Romans at that time.

It could have been at this point that Pilate called for the basin of water and washed his hands. The water would clean his hands but could not cleanse the guilt of his heart.

(Luke 23:20)  Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them.
Luke 23:21) But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him
(Mark 15:13)  And they cried out again, Crucify him

When Pilate urged the second time that Christ should be released, they cried out, Crucify him, crucify him. They not only wanted Him dead, they wanted Him to die the worst kind of death; crucifixion. Nothing less will satisfy them, so the cry goes up, crucify him, crucify him.

(Mark 15:14)  Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
(Luke 23:22)  And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go.

The chief priests and rulers were enraged. They demanded the death of Jesus and the release of Barabbas.  The extent of their influence was incredible, for less than a week before the people of this same city had honored Christ in His “Triumphal Entry.”

Again Pilate feebly attempted to exonerate the Lord by challenging their accusations against Him. He asked, “Why? What evil hath he done? Name his crime. I have found no cause of death, and you cannot say what cause of death you have found in him; and therefore, if you will but speak the word, I will chastise him and let him go.’’ But the vicious demands of the mob drowned him out. No matter what he said, they persisted in demanding the death of the Son of God.

(John 19:7)  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.

Our Lord’s prosecutors would not be stopped by Pilate’s pronouncement of Christ’s innocence and his contention that He should be chastised and then released. They informed Pilate that they had a law that could be applied to this particular situation: “We have a law, and by our law, if it were in our power to execute it, he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” The law they are referring to is probably the Law of Moses; and if so:
1. It was true that blasphemers, idolaters, and false prophets, were to be put to death by that law, because whoever falsely pretended to be the Son of God was guilty of blasphemy ( [40]Leviticus 24:16).
2. It was false that Christ pretended to be the Son of God, for he really was God the Son. They ought to have investigated the evidence of His doctrine, miracles, and sinless life. They should have talked with the people who were drawn to Him about how their life was changed. Jesus did not break the law and was not guilty of any crime punishable by death. His ensuing death was not the result of Him breaking the law, but of Him fulfilling scripture.

(John 19:8)   When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;

When Pilate hears that Christ claimed to be the Son of God, he is even more afraid. Superstitious Pilate had already been warned by his wife about Christ ( [41]Matt hew 27:19) and now he realizes that he may be dealing with the Son of God. That possibility made the case more difficult in two ways:
1. If he would acquit Jesus there was a greater possibility of offending the people. He could possibly pacify their rage against a pretended king, but he could never reconcile them to a pretended God.
2. If he did not acquit Jesus he would offend his own conscience since he believed He was innocent of the charges against Him. "If it is true that He is the Son of God (Pilate thinks) what will become of me?’’ After all, he had just whipped and tortured someone who, in his own mind bring down a curse or vengeance on him.
The Romans and Greeks had numerous myths about the gods coming to earth as men ( [42]Acts 14:8-13), so it is likely Pilate responded to the phrase “Son of God” with these stories in mind.

(John 19:9)   And went again into the  [43]judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus,  [44]Whence  [45]art  [46]thou?  But Jesus gave him no answer.
(John 19:10)   Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

Pilate took Jesus into the Praetorium or judgment hall and asked Him where He came from. In all of this, Pilate presented a most tragic figure. He confessed with his own lips that Jesus had done no wrong; yet he did not have the moral courage to let Him go because he feared the Jews.

Why did Jesus refuse to answer? Probably because He knew that Pilate was unwilling to act in accordance with the light he had. Pilate had sinned away his day of opportunity. He would not be given more light when he had not responded to the light he had.

Pilate asked Him, “Where did you come from? What world were you in before you came into this one?” But Jesus did not answer. This was not a grim silence, showing His contempt for the court, and it was not because he did not know what to say. Instead, His silence was both patient and prudent:
1. It was a patient silence that fulfilled the scripture, “As a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). This silence loudly spoke of his submission to His Father’s will in His present sufferings.
2. It was a prudent silence, because when the chief priests asked him, “Art thou the Son of the Blessed?” he answered, “I am”, for he knew they followed the scriptures of the Old Testament which spoke of the Messiah. But when Pilate asked him where He came from, He knew he did not understand his own question, since he had no knowledge of the Messiah, and of Jesus being the Son of God, and therefore what good would it do to answer since his head was filled with pagan theology?

Pilate tried to force the Lord to answer by threatening Him. He reminded Jesus that, as Roman governor, he had power or authority to release Him or to crucify Him. He believed that he was in control and that Christ’s life was in his hands and he could do whatever he wanted to do to Him. But in reality it was Christ who was in control of the situation—at any time He could have called ten thousand angels to take Him home to heaven thus avoiding the cross.

(John 19:11)   Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

The self-control of the Lord Jesus was remarkable. He was calmer than Pilate. He answered quietly that whatever power Pilate possessed had been given to him by God. All governments are ordained by God, and all authority, whether civil or spiritual, is from God. Pilate was powerless to carry out anything other than the will of God in this matter.

From this account and from the record of the other Gospels it is evident that when Pilate used his power, Christ silently submitted to it; but, when he became proud of his power, Christ informed him of the source of his power: “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above,” which may be taken two ways:
First, As a reminder that his power in general, as a judge, was limited and he could not do any more than God would allow him to do. God is the fountain of power; and the powers that be, are ordained by him and derived from him, so they are subject to him.
Secondly, As enlightening him that the power he uses against Him is by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God ( [47]Acts 2:23). Pilate never fancied himself to appear as great as he does now, setting in judgment of this famous prisoner, who many looked upon as the Son of God and king of Israel. But Christ lets him know that he was just an instrument in God’s hand, and he could not harm Him in any way, without God’s approval ( [48]Acts 4:27-28).

“He that delivered me unto thee,” may refer to: (1) Caiaphas, the high priest, who was at the head of the conspiracy against Christ; (2) Judas, the betrayer; or (3) the Jews, who cried out, crucify him, crucify him. The thought is that these Jews should have known better. They had the Scriptures which predicted the coming of the Messiah. They should have recognized Him when He came. But they rejected Him and were even now crying out for His life. This verse teaches us that there are degrees of guilt. Pilate was guilty, but so were Caiaphas, and Judas, and all the wicked Jews. The sin of Judas was the leading sin, and it made a place for all that followed. He was a guide to them that took Jesus. So great was the sin of Judas that Christ said this, “he was gone to his own place.”

Jesus makes a comparison of Pilate’s sin with the ringleader’s sin: “therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.”
First, It is plainly implied, that what Pilate did was sin, a great sin, and that the pressure which the Jews put upon him, would not justify him. The guilt of others will not acquit us, and it will not do us any good in the great day to say that others are worse than we are, because we are not judged by comparison, but must bear our own burden.
Secondly, Those that delivered Him to Pilate committed the greatest sin. From this it appears that all sins are not equal, but some more heinous than others; some are comparatively as small as gnats, others are like camels; some are motes in the eyes, others are beams.

(John 19:12)   And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

He was afraid of Jesus and he knew he was innocent, but just as Pilate became determined to release Him, the Jews used their last and most telling argument. If the Jews contacted Caesar, and explained that Pilate released a king who threatened Roman authority, Pilate would be guilty of treason against Rome.

“If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend.” (Caesar was the official title of the Roman Emperor.) As if they cared for Caesar! They hated him. They would like to destroy him, and free themselves from his control. Yet here they were pretending to protect Caesar’s empire from the threat of this Jesus who claimed to be a king! They reaped the punishment of this terrible hypocrisy when the Romans marched into Jerusalem in A.D. 70 and utterly destroyed the city and slaughtered its inhabitants.

(John 19:13)   When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the  [49]judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew,  [50]Gabbatha.

The charges made against Jesus were not supported by evidence; therefore, Pilate maintained his conviction that He was innocent.

Some in the crowd yelled over the sound of the mob, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend.” Pilate could not afford to have the Jews accuse him of disloyalty to Caesar, and so he weakly submitted to the mob. He brought Jesus out to a public area called the Pavement, where such matters were often handled, and he sat down in the judgment seat, where he may have called for his robes so that he would appear more regal.

(John 19:14)   And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

Actually, the Passover feast had been held on the previous evening. The Preparation Day of the Passover means the preparation for the feast that followed it. The Jews counted time two ways. For Jesus and Jews who lived in northern Israel the day began at 6 P.M. and ended at 6 P.M. the following evening. But the Romans and the Jews in southern Israel counted time the same way that we do. Therefore the preparation day was Thursday for both groups. Here John is using the same method used in southern Israel.

“About the sixth hour” was probably 6 a.m.

“Behold your King (their poor, miserable, beaten king)!” Almost certainly, Pilate said this to annoy and provoke the Jews. He doubtless blamed them for trapping him into condemning Jesus.

(John 19:15)   But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. (Luke 23:23)  And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.

The Jews were insistent that Jesus must be crucified. Pilate taunted them with the question, “You mean you want to crucify your own King?” Then the Jews stooped very low by saying, “We have no king but Caesar!” Only a faithless nation would refuse its God for a wicked, heathen monarch. If language means anything, the very sovereignty of God over the nation was repudiated. Who was guilty of blasphemy now?

The chief priests were guilty of envy (v. 10), and Pilate was guilty of compromise (v. 15). Their sins led to the release of an evil man (v. 15), the embarrassment of an innocent man (v. 21), and the death of a good Man (v. 25); yet envy and compromise are not looked upon as terrible sins today. Should they be?

(John 19:16)   Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.


Although he had already pronounced Jesus innocent, spineless Pilate did what they wanted—he released Barabbas, flogged Jesus and delivered Him over to the soldiers for crucifixion. He did not have enough courage to go against such a strong stream of demands from the chief priests and the Jewish mob. It was a monstrous verdict of unrighteousness. And yet it was a parable of our redemption—the guiltless One delivered to die in order that the guilty might go free.

Pilate now yielded to their persistent demands and condemned Him to death in order to please the people. At the same time he released Barabbas to the multitude. “And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired.” He loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
Both Pilate and the chief priests share the direct guilt for Christ’s death, but it is also true that Christ laid down His life and that no man could take it from Him ( [51]John 10:17–18).

Pilate wanted to get rid of Jesus as quickly and as easily as possible, but you cannot avoid making serious decisions about Him. Pilate ended up condemning an innocent Man, releasing a guilty man, and making friends with a wicked man. What a record for a Roman ruler whose responsibility it was to uphold the law and give people justice!

Barabbas deserved to die but was set free because Jesus took his place. Did Barabbas go to Calvary and look at the Man who died for him? Probably not. He was glad to be free from the sentence of death so he could return to his old ways. He was free but still in the bondage of sin.


_____________________Special Notes___________________________

  [1]PILATE, PONTIUS [PIE lat, PON chus] — the fifth Roman prefect of Judea (ruled A.D. 26–36), who issued the official order sentencing Jesus to death by crucifixion
  [2]Leaders, officials
  [3]distort; to pervert
  [4]See, look
  [6]Moral evil, moral wrong, crime, error, wrong, transgression
  [8]Of which
  [10]Behold, see, look, note
  [11]Better, “done by Him”
  [12]an infliction of punishment (as by whipping or beating).

  [13]Passover, from the Hebrew pasach, “to pass over, to spare,” a feast instituted by God in commemoration of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and anticipatory of the expiatory sacrifice of Christ.
  [14]BARABBAS [buh RAB bas] — a “robber” (John 18:40) and “notorious prisoner” (Matt. 27:16) who was chosen by the mob in Jerusalem to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas had been imprisoned for insurrection and murder (Luke 23:19, 25; Mark 15:7). Pilate offered to give the crowd either Jesus or Barabbas. The mob demanded that he release Barabbas and crucify Jesus. Ironically, the name Barabbas probably means “son of the father.” There is no further mention of Barabbas after he was released.
  [15]Shackle,  bind, to fasten, to tie the feet with thongs
  [16]INSURRECTION — an act of rebellion against the established government (Ezra 4:19; Ps. 64:2; Acts 21:38). Barabbas, the criminal who was released by Pilate before Jesus’ crucifixion, was guilty of insurrection against the Roman government (Mark 15:7).
  [17]to cry out, cry aloud, to shout, to cry out to one
  [19]But he was woundedb for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 
  [20]And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again. 
  [21]And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.
  [22]And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.
  [23]Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 
  [24]I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath. 
  [25]braid, weave together
  [26]bush, brier, a thorny plant
  [27]garments, i.e. the cloak or mantle and the tunic
  [28]to joy, rejoice, be glad
  [30]out of doors
  [32]cause for which one is worthy of punishment, crime
  [33]And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle.
  [34]And they all forsook him, and fled.
 [36] thorny, woven out of twigs of a thorny plant
  [37]including ex-high-priests and members of their families
  [38]of the attendants of a king, servants, retinue, the soldiers of a king
  [39]Crucifixion was a common method of carrying out the death sentence in the Roman Empire. It was probably the most cruel and painful method of death the Romans knew. Crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals; by law a Roman citizen could not be crucified. Crucifixion was usually a long slow process, but Jesus died in a remarkably short period of time for He voluntarily “ breathed His last” (John 23: 46).
  [40]And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.
  [41]When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
  [42]And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker.Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people.
  [43]the palace in which the governor or procurator of a province resided, to which use the Romans were accustomed to appropriate the palaces already existing, and formerly dwelt in by kings or princes; at Jerusalem it was a magnificent palace which Herod the Great had built for himself, and which the Roman procurators seemed to have occupied whenever they came from Caesarea to Jerusalem to transact public business
  [47]Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
  [48]For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 

  [49]The “judgment seat” was the place where Pilate sat to render the official verdict. The seat was placed on an area paved with stones known as the “Pavement.” The irony is that Pilate rendered judgment on the One whom the Father Himself entrusted with all judgment (John 5:22) and who would render a just condemnation of Pilate.
  [50]Probably means “elevated ground.”
  [51]Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. 


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 Three frogs sat on a log and one decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log? Three, just because we decide to do something doesn’t mean we will actually do it.

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