Pilate Defends Jesus

John 19:8-15 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and said unto Jesus, Whence are thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then said Pilate unto him, Speak thou not unto me? know thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou could 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. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou are not Caesar’s friend: whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he said unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate said unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 

‘More afraid’ Pilate was torn between two fears: that of offending the Sanhedrin and the populace who would file formal charges against him to Caesar, and perhaps cause immediate rebellion; and that of killing an innocent man, a miracle-worker, a prince and an offspring of Deity, and one whom he had been warned of by his wife (Matt. 27:19) and his own growing conviction not to have a part in His death.

‘Whence are thou? … Speak thou not unto me? know thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?’ The first question concerned whether He was a real offspring of Deity or not. Was this man, who was so different from all others he had ever seen, really a supernatural being? Christ gave no answer, so he threatened boastingly of his power to release or crucify Him.

‘Thou could have no power at all against me, except it was given thee from above’ Jesus answered Pilate that he could not do one thing unless God willed. It was a sin for him to condemn Christ, for he was convinced by his conscience of His innocence; but the Jews have the greater sin, because they wilfully sin against Jesus.

‘Thenceforth Pilate sought to release him’ Pilate sought all the more to release Him, but the Jews now brought up the accusation of high treason to force his decision. They wanted to accuse him to Caesar for preferring another king to his own emperor.

‘Caesar’s friend: whosoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar’ they hated Caesar, but they hated their own Messiah more.

‘When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth’ when Pilate heard their accusation against him of high treason, he brought Jesus out before the Jews again and made his fifth attempt to deliver Him (Luke 23:4, 15, 20, 22; John 18:38; 19:4, 6, 12-14). He knew that Tiberius was one of the most jealous and distrustful rulers in the world and that during his reign accusations and conspiracies were plentiful, being founded on foolish pretences, and being punished with excessive rigour.

‘Judgment’ the Greek word bema, a stone platform in the open court in front of the Praetorium; the place of final sentence (Matt. 27:19; John 19:13; Acts 12:21; 18:12-17; 25:6, 10, 17). Used also of the judgment seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10; 2Cor. 5:10). ‘Gabbatha’ a raised pavement higher than the rest of the pavement. ‘Sixth hour’ about 12:00 midnight.

‘Away’ the Greek word airo, the same word translated “take up” serpents in Mark 16:18. It is never used in the sense of making a side show or demonstration to prove faith, but it means to remove, destroy, and put out of the way by death, as in Matthew 22:13; John 1:29; 19:15; Acts 21:36; 22:22; 1John 3:5.

‘We have no king but Caesar’ deeper and deeper these religious people were going into sin and rebellion – choosing an enemy instead of a friend, satan instead of God, and eternal damnation instead of eternal life.

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