Now the scene shifts back to the governor’s palace, where Jesus stands arraigned before Rome’s representative in Judea.  Pilate asked whether Jesus were the King of the Jews, and He affirmed it to be so, thereby claiming again to be God’s divine Messiah.  Meanwhile, His bitter enemies, the chief priests and elders, venomously accused Him of many things, trying with all their powers to effect His condemnation.  Pilate, who seems to have had the intention of running an honorable court, was willing that Jesus should speak for Himself and offer a defense to their charges.  But the Lord Jesus had come to this place with the full intention of going to the cross.  As mute as a sheep being led to the slaughter, He uttered not a single word to controvert their accusations, but humbly awaited sentence to be passed, knowing full well that the sentence of God had surely been passed, and that He the Just must suffer for the Unjust.

Pontius Pilate, though an ungodly heathen, could not help but be impressed by the striking character of Jesus.  Therefore, in order to placate the wrath of the Jewish leadership, he begins striving to devise a way whereby he can have Jesus released, and not be guilty of executing an innocent man, Who, though He may claim for Himself a crown, yet plainly was no threat to the dominion of Rome.  Guided by these thoughts, Pilate remembered that at Passover time he was wont to release to the people any prisoner that they chose.  Doubtless this was done by the Romans in order to drench the smoldering passions for independence that were so often flaring up among the Jewish people.  Pilate recognized in this a method whereby he could have Christ released, and rid himself of the nasty, unpleasant business.  He saw right through the accusations of the Lord’s enemies, and knew that they had delivered Him for envy, because many of the people were deserting their leadership to flock to Jesus.  Probably He was aware of the Galilean ministry, and the hubbub surrounding His miracles and teaching which had spread from one end of the nation to the other.  He also was almost certainly aware that, although Jesus always attracted large crowds of followers, He had never spoken a word against the authority of Rome, and did not at all wear the guise of a revolutionary leader.  Also, the words of his wife had likely disturbed him.  While he sat on the judgment seat, she had sent him a message, warning him to do nothing against “that just man,” because she had suffered many things in a dream because of Him.  Pilate, then, had every reason to know the innocence of Jesus, and was determined to at least make an effort to have Him released.

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