Jesus has returned to Pilate from Herod. Neither one of them found Jesus guilty of any crime, and certainly not one worthy of death. Now Pilate is faced with what to do with an innocent Man.
Pilate is trying to appease the crowd and keep his integrity. Instead of simply releasing Jesus, Pilate calls “the chief priests and the rulers and the people” together. He is trying to convince them to drop the matter. He proclaims Jesus innocent of all charges and says he wants to release Him. But first, to satisfy the crowd’s thirst for violence, Pilate will have Jesus punished.
WHY? Punishment is supposed to be used as a corrective tool. It is to impress upon the recipient the fact that actions have consequences. Consequences that no one wants to bring upon themselves. Inflicting “punishment” on an innocent party is cruel and counterproductive. If negative reinforcement applies equally to committing or not committing an act, then there is no incentive to refrain from doing evil. So the “punishment” wasn’t for the “offender” but for the accusers. It was to appease those bring the charges. Make them feel like they got something for their trouble. Jewish law would dictate that the accuser receive the punishment they were seeking for the accused. That was the legal result for bearing false witness.
Jesus should never have been subjected to punishment. He was innocent. Those accusing Him should have stood in His place. Instead He stood in ALL of our place, even those accusing Him that morning.
I have often wished that Pilate had “grown a backbone” and stood up to the people, but that wasn’t part of God’s plan. Jesus HAD to take our place. He had to suffer the rejection by the people. He had to receive the stripes. He had to walk the Via Delarosa. He was just steps away from that road as He stood before the crowd with Pilate at His side, urging the people to let Jesus go.
Father God, I am troubled by Pilate’s actions. On one hand I want to feel sorry for him because he was caught between a rock and a hard place, as well as his actions being part of Your will. On the other hand, I want to yell at him for even thinking of punishing a Man he KNEW to be innocent. Will I meet him in Heaven? Did he make the choice to follow Your teachings. I wonder where his wife went. She was the one who warned him of the consequences of messing with Jesus. I wonder if I will see either of them in Heaven to ask them my questions. Help me stand for what is right, no matter what the consequences. Give me Your strength.