We are watching as Jesus is flogged, mocked, and tormented by Pilate’s soldiers. These men were directly under Pilate’s authority and acting on his behest. Does this sound like a man seeking to release an innocent prisoner?
Did Pilate inform the soldiers of the crimes the Sanhedrin used to pass Jesus off to the Roman government? The religious leaders tried to convince Pilate that Jesus was trying to assert Himself as King in the place of Caesar. Did the guards overhear the charges? What was the reason they were tormenting Jesus in the manner they were? Why did they make Him a crown? Why the purple robe? Why the mock homage? And why didn’t Pilate stop it?
God allowed the Roman soldiers to rightly proclaim Jesus as King, even if they didn’t believe their own words. Jesus proudly wore the crown they fashioned. He never once hid from their blows or taunts. Pilate didn’t intervene on Jesus’ behalf either. He let his men do their worst to Jesus, KNOWING He was innocent of the charges levied against Him.
Pilate’s act of turning Jesus over to the soldiers was meant to appease the Jews without really giving in to their demands. Kind of like giving a child who is screaming for candy a cookie instead. You hope the one will fulfill their desire for something sweet and get their mind off the treat you feel is not good for them. Personally, the tantrum needs to be squashed not appeased.
When Jesus was brought back before the people Pilate allowed Him to continue wearing the mocking garments the soldiers placed on Him. Was this a stab at the religious leaders; Jesus dressed as a King? Apparently it did nothing to appease the “screaming child” in them.
What it did instead was to make them disclose the real reason they were accusing Jesus. “We have a law, and according to that law He ought to die because He has made Himself the Son of God” (verse 7). Now that the truth was out Pilate was really scared. He thought he had been dealing with someone who irritated the religious leaders. Now he recognized he was sitting in judgement of God. Pilate had probably lived in Israel long enough to see their God in action to some extent. He wanted NO part of this mess! He had to know first though if this accusation was true. He needed to talk to Jesus again.
Jesus knew Pilate’s distress and He lessened it just a little. “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered Me over to you has the greater sin” (verse 11). Pilate didn’t understand that he was part of God’s plan. He still wanted to release Jesus and would try his best to find a way out of this situation.
Pilate finally gave in to the crowds demands when they said he wouldn’t be a friend to Caesar if he didn’t have Jesus executed. So he gives in to the roar of the crowd. They would have their crucifixion but it would be done as grudgingly as possible.
Did you notice that Jesus didn’t say Pilate would bear no sin for his actions that day? He said Pilate’s sin would be less than Caiaphas and those calling for His death, but he would carry some responsibility too. Even though God’s plan called for Jesus to die on a cross, Pilate was free to make the RIGHT decision concerning an innocent man. But God knew Pilate’s character and knew that he wouldn’t. God didn’t force Pilate to follow His plan, He simply knew Pilate’s actions LONG before this time began. Just as He knew Judas’ actions and He knows mine. He knew I would choose to follow Him. He also knows I would and will fail Him time and time again. But He planned for that on the cross. I pray Pilate was able to receive that gift for himself too.
Thank You Lord Jesus for enduring the mocking and the flogging. Thank You for wearing that crown that was made to torment You. Thank You for surrendering Your authority to those men. You could so easily have stopped all this in its tracks, but You chose to walk this path to the end. You even let Pilate bow out, thinking his hands were clean. I wonder what he thought after hearing Your body was no longer in the grave. Did he believe the religious leaders’ concocted story? How did this event alter his life? If I can’t ask him I’ll gladly settle for asking You. You knew him well enough to know he would follow Your plan so I know for certain that You know how he changed after that night. Thank You for making a way for me. Thank You for loving me enough to endure the pain and the shame.