Third Stage of the Roman Trial (Part 4)
Pilate asked Jesus - "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" (John 19:10). Our Lord did reply to this - "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" (John 19:11).

Romans 13:1 teaches that "there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God." Pilate had not earned his earthly position but the heavenly Father had blessed him with power.

"Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin" - Jesus here judges His judges! While it is true that Judas delivered Jesus to the Jews, it was Caiaphas the high priest (who represented the Sanhedrin and all of Israel) who delivered Jesus to Pilate (and is thus under consideration here). Both Caiaphas and Pilate sinned in abusing their God-given power, but Pilate's sin was of a lesser degree. This was the case because Pilate did not hate Jesus as the Jewish leaders did. They were personally acquainted with Jesus (i.e., His teachings and miracles) and the Scriptures, and still they rejected Him. Their guilt was greater in this matter.

It should be observed that this verse undeniably proves there are degrees of sin in God's eyes (i.e., all sin is an abomination, but some sins are worse than others). Of course, that is not to say that man has the inherent ability to accurately classify all sins by degree.

"From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, 'If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar" (John 19:12). Pilate had been trying to win the consent of the Jewish leaders to release Jesus but had failed in accomplishing such. His final attempt to free Jesus was met with a cry that he could not ignore politically. The Jews give their political accusation against Jesus a new spin by prompting Pilate to consider it from Caesar's standpoint. Pilate didn't see Jesus as a threat, but what would Caesar (Tiberius) think about Jesus and what would he think about Pilate setting Jesus free? Pilate knew the emperor to be jealous, suspicious, and cruel. He also knew that the Jews could cost him his position and maybe his life if they presented this charge against him before Caesar. Had the Jews not brought up this point, it seems that Pilate would have released Jesus.

"When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha" (John 19:13). Pilate had declared Jesus to be innocent several times, but now he mounts the judgment seat so that he can formally reverse his decision and condemn Jesus. How sad that Pilate values his own position and life over justice and the defense of the innocent! He is more afraid of Tiberius than he is the Lord (cf. Matt. 10:28)! He would rather be a friend of Caesar than a friend of Jesus (cf. John 15:14)!

"Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour" (John 19:14). It was about 6 A.M. on Friday morning. The Passover meal had been eaten the night before and the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was just beginning (cf. 13:1). Friday was always a special day of preparation because of the unique restrictions that applied on the next day (the Sabbath).

"Behold your King!" - Pilate spoke these words, not in contempt for Jesus, but sarcastically to the Jews and perhaps to create shame in their hearts for their part in this cruel miscarriage of justice. It was Pilate's final fling at a group for whom he felt only disgust but from whose snare he could not escape.

"Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!" (John 19:15). Nothing less than Jesus' death would satisfy them. They would drown out any plea of justice or mercy. Jesus must die, and He must be put to death in the most degrading and cruelest way.

"'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar!'" - The response of the Jewish leaders shows that they were willing to say and do almost anything to secure the death of Jesus.

We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.