After the Jews deliver Jesus to Pilate, the governor, Pilate tells the Jews that he finds no guilt in Jesus. But the Jews successfully pressure Pilate to crucify Jesus anyway. There’s actually quite a bit of politics going on here, which I’ll explore in a bit.
Then, Jesus bears the cross up to Golgotha, There, the soldiers crucify Jesus. After Jesus died, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took the body of Jesus and buried Him according to the burial custom of the Jews.
As governor, Pilate is actually quite shrewd. He knows that Jesus is blameless before the law but also a threat to the Romans. Pilate most likely sees Jesus as a symbol that can rally the Jews to rebel against the Romans, which is a situation he would very much like to avoid.
However, if Pilate deems Jesus guilty, he will make enemies with many Jews.
Therefore, Pilate’s strategy is to have the Jews charge Jesus as guilty so Pilate himself can remain blameless in this whole affair. After all, he’s got plenty of governing to do.
At all costs though, Pilate does not want to pass judgment on Jesus because he fears the repercussions from the people.
When the chief priests and the officers saw him [Jesus], they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take hi yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”John 19:6
Interestingly enough, the chief priests have the exact same thought―they want to avoid passing judgment on Jesus also to avoid repercussions with the people, since Jesus was wildly popular.
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid.John 19:7-8
Pilate grew even more afraid to pass judgment on Jesus because Jews might actually rebel against the state of Rome if he kills their “king”.
But the chief priests had a political trump card.
From then on Pilate sought to release him [Jesus], but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”John 19:12
Dang, the Jews (chief priests and religious leaders) basically called Pilate a traitor to Caesar. Pilate could not go against that, so he finally passed judgment on Jesus.
The chief priests won the politics.
A Technical Detail
Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It reads, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”John 19:19
Why would Pilate write this?
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.John 19:21-22
Why did the chief priests not like what Pilate wrote?
Out of all details, why did John choose include this seemingly tiny technical detail?
Pilate wrote a statement; the chief priests wanted a claim. My guess is that Pilate is mocking the Jews for their murderous behavior. The chief priests totally could have put Jesus to death with their Jewish authority, but instead had Pilate pass judgment. This could be a way for Pilate to have a tiny bit of revenge for forcing his hand politically.
Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both who ranked decently high amongst Jewish society, took the body of Jesus and buried Him according to the burial custom of the Jews.
They believed in Jesus but were afraid of the chief priests. If they spoke out against the chief priests and advocated for Jesus, they would most certainly lose their positions.
Despite their sin of being attached to status, God still uses them to retrieve Jesus’s body so God’s plan can be fulfilled.
How often do you act like a secret disciple? When have you been ashamed to admit you’re a follower of Christ or afraid of losing something of the world? Just something to think about.
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