John 19:1-3-Pilate has Jesus scourged. His soldiers mock His claim to be a king by placing a crown made of thorns and a purple robe on Him. They then bow before Him with false reverence…and at the same time hit Him on the face.
For an explanation of the process of scourging see:
John 19:4-16-After this punishment, Pilate tells the Jews again that he cannot find adequate reason to crucify Him. He has Jesus come out wearing the crown of thorns and mockingly says, “Behold, the Man!” It is as if Pilate is saying, “Is this the guy that you’re all worked up about…the so-called King? Look at Him, He’s no threat. He’s lost before the fight has even started. Let’s just forget about it and go home.” It could be that he hoped that once the Jewish leaders saw Jesus beaten and humiliated that they would be satisfied, lose interest, and demand nothing more. But they are determined and cry out for Pilate to crucify Him. You can now begin to hear the frustration building in Pilate as he responds, “You crucify Him! He’s broken no Roman law to deserve such punishment.” The Jews answer that Jesus has broken one of their laws that deserves the death punishment…He claimed to be the Son of God (blasphemy!). When he heard this, “he was the more afraid”. What was Pilate now afraid of? It could be that he realized that the Jews were not going to back down. They felt they had a legitimate argument and if they didn’t get what they demanded it could quickly escalate into violence. But it would not just be the violence that worried him. After all, his soldiers could probably handle that. But, if Rome found out that he could not handle his subjects…he would lose favor, and perhaps lose much more, his throne. Or, could it be that the thought suddenly came to Pilate, “What if this is the Son of God, and I kill Him? What would happen to me, then?” Pilate takes Jesus back into the Praetorium (out of sight and sound of the Jewish leaders) and questions Him again…but Jesus gives no reply. Pilate tells Him that he has the power to release Him. But Jesus tells Pilate that he only has that power because it had been given to him. He is referring to the fact that God is sovereign over all things. Once again Pilate drags Jesus back out to the leaders. He again tries to convince the Jews that Jesus should be released…but they continue to refuse to do so. But this time the Jews play their trump card and threaten that if Pilate doesn’t crucify Jesus (because of His claim to be king) then he is taking sides against Caesar. Pilate finally caves in to their demands. He takes his seat on the “Gabbatha”…the official chair, or seat of the judge (probably the large paved area that was part of the Castle of Antonia…at the northwest corner of the Temple area beneath the Ecce Homo Arch). The time of questioning is over…he is about to pronounce judgment. He wasn’t happy with the Jewish leaders…they had directly confronted him and forced his hand…they had wounded his pride. In a statement meant to mock them he says, “Here is your King. I have the power to crucify your King!” Now, caught in a trap of their own making…the Jews say, “The only king that we have is Caesar.” Had they retorted, “God is our only king, not Him,” then Pilate could have had them tried for sedition against Caesar. The Jews had tried to use Caesar to their advantage. But now, Pilate turns the table and tricks the Jews into claiming Caesar to be their only King…something that he knew they would despise having to do since it would be a denial of God as their only true King. It is a small victory…but to some degree it would placate his wounded ego. Having settled the issue…Pilate gives the Jews permission to crucify Jesus.
John 19:17-22-The Jews now force Jesus to carry the cross that He would be crucified on to a site called the “Place of the Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (see February 14, Matt. 27:32-66-for information and a picture of Golgotha). Jesus is crucified at Golgotha. Two other men were crucified along with Him, one on either side of Him. Almost as if to rub salt into the wound that he inflicted on the Jewish leaders, Pilate has a sign attached to the cross above Jesus’ head that stated (in three languages), “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.” The Jewish leaders complain and ask that it be changed to state that Jesus only claimed to be King of the Jews. But he refuses. Pilate is making a point: “You may have gotten your way, but at the end of the day, I’m still in control.” But that’s not really so. Jesus had been right when He told Pilate that everything that was being done could only be done at the express will of God (:11).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, at any point You could have caved in…even here with Pilate…and stopped it all. It seems that Pilate was looking for a reason to release You…and yet, You were faithful to follow the Father’s will. “Thank You” is not an adequate expression of what I’m trying to say. But, You know my heart. Thank You. Please help me, even when faced with difficulty and opposition, and even when there seems to be an easy way out of my struggle, to be faithful to You.