Pilate and Herod have never gotten along, but when Herod sends Jesus back to Pilate with a message that he has found no reason to execute Him, Pilate’s respect for him grows. Pilate calls together the group of priests and declares, “This Man is only interested in bringing the truth to people, whatever that is. You accuse Him of treason against Rome, but I find no fault in Him, nor does Herod. I believe that His only crime is getting on your bad side! There is no reason to put Him to death. I will have Him whipped and then He will be freed.” A large crowd has gathered around Pilate’s mansion to hear the verdict, and they are outraged. “No! He is guilty! Crucify Him!” they shout, enraged. Pilate holds up his hands for silence and declares, “There is a tradition that at the Passover festival I release one prisoner to you. Let me release Jesus.” “No! Crucify Him! Release Barabbas!” shouts the crowd. “Barabbas is everything that you are accusing this Man of being. You want me to release the real criminal and execute the innocent Man?” Pilate asks. “Yes! Crucify Him! Give us Barabbas!” they shout back. Pilate shakes his head, astounded. He has his soldiers whip Jesus. They mock Him, weaving a crown of thorns and placing it on His head, and beating His face and body as they cut open his back with the metal-tipped whip. They give Him a purple robe to wear, calling Him “The King of the Jews” as they spit in His face. Pilate looks at Jesus and asks, “Who are You? Where do You come from?” Jesus just looks at him silently. “Why do You not speak to me? Don’t You know that I have the ultimate power over whether You live or die?” “The only power you have is that which was given to you by My Father, God. You are not as much to blame in this as those who have conspired to bring this about,” Jesus finally responds. Pilate tries once more to release Him. “See? He has been flogged. Now, will you accept His release?” “No!” the crowd shouts again, “Crucify Him! Give us Barabbas! He has said that He is a king! That is treason against Caesar! If you release Him, you will be ‘No Friend of Caesar!’” Pilate takes a step back in horror at the thought. Roman law states that no Roman citizen is to endure the agony of crucifixion, unless someone accuses them of being ‘No Friend of Caesar,’ or in other words, treason against Caesar. For that crime, there is no defense, no trial, only a painful end on a cross. Pilate’s wife comes to him, her face white. “Husband,” she says in a low voice, “Please, I beg you, have nothing to do with this Man! I had a horrible dream about Him and what is to come as a result of His crucifixion last night.” Pilate is unsure of what to do. He has no wish to incite a riot, nor does he wish to crucify Jesus. He asks for a bowl of water. A servant brings it to him, and in front of the crowd, he sits down on the judgment seat on the Stone Pavement or Gabbatha of his courtyard. By this time it is almost mid-morning. He makes a show of washing his hands, to let them know that he is washing his hands of the whole affair, and the blood of Jesus will be on their hands. The crowd, eager to get this done, shouts back, “We will take responsibility! We and our children!” Pilate throws up his hands in defeat and releases Jesus to the guards, where He is led away to be crucified.
Matthew 27:15-31, Mark 15:6-20, Luke 23:13-25, John 18:38-19:16