Article #13 on the Passion of Jesus Christ
(Matt. 27:20-26, Mk. 15:11-15, Lk. 23:18-25, Jn. 19:1-16)
Contextual Details for Harmonizing the Gospels: The 3rd appearance of Jesus before Pilate began with a formal presentation of the Lamb of God to the angry crowd of Jews waiting in the courtyard of the palace (Jn. 19:1-6). Jesus Christ was still dressed in the scarlet-purple robe (and the crown of thorns) at this time, and thus the mockery of the Kingship of the Son of God by this means continued (Jn. 19:1-16); therefore, the Jews joined the Romans in this newly invented form of mockery (Note: other forms of mockery will continue at the Cross by both Jews and Romans). Literally, this specific form of mockery that began in the Praetorium continued at the courtyard of the palace, and “after” it was all said and done, “when” the sentence of condemnation was finally given, only then did the Roman soldiers remove the scarlet-purple robe and put Jesus’ own raiment back on Him (see “after” & “when” in Matt. 27:31 & Mk. 15:20).
Having sentenced Jesus to be scourged, Pilate was anxiously awaiting His return to the judgment hall. The governor was planning his next moves carefully. All the Jews were still gathered in the courtyard of the palace, and he didn’t know how they would react to what was coming. Pilate was hoping to release Jesus without a tumult being created by the Jews (Matt. 27:24).
“Behold the Man!” – John 19:5
Then came the moment when Christ was ushered back into the presence of Pilate in the judgment hall. The governor took one look at Jesus and knew what to do! He would go to the courtyard and boldly proclaim to the Jews his judgment of innocence, and then he would ceremoniously bring Jesus before them, saying, “Behold the Man!” (Jn. 19:5).
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged Him. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote Him with their hands. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.” – John 19:1-6
Perhaps the Roman soldiers were taking longer than expected, and Pilate ended up giving the command to interrupt their fiasco, and thus Jesus was brought before the governor still adorned with the scarlet-purple robe. Whatever happened, these earthly circumstances weren’t random or coincidental. This was a divinely planned presentation. Pilate said to the Jews, “Behold, I bring him forth to you…”, and then ceremoniously proclaimed, “Behold the Man!” (Jn. 19:5), while unknowingly speaking on behalf of God to Jerusalem. What followed is a shocking scene!
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” – John 1:29
Suddenly, the Jews saw the amazing sight! Jesus stood before them all regal as a King! Having been marred by the scourge more than any other man had ever been disfigured by Roman torturers (Isa. 52:14), it seemed that Pilate simply couldn’t contain himself, as he would go on to make a second proclamation, saying, “Behold your King!” (Jn. 19:14). Having been crowned with thorns, spat upon, and badly beaten, the Lamb of God was now being publicly presented to the Jews while in the very act of taking away the sin of the world! This is Gospel preaching like the world has never seen. Even as Isaiah the prophet foretold, saying, “Behold your God!” (Isa. 40:9), this is a moment that men and angels will remember forever.
“He is despised and rejected of men; a Man of Sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.” – Isa. 53:3
Remember, Pilate’s stated purpose in the 2nd appearance was, “I will therefore chastise Him, and release Him.” (Lk. 23:16). The governor hoped that the Jews would take one look upon the Man, and it would be enough. However, during the scourging, the Chief Priests and Elders took the needed time to persuade the multitude to make their demands in unison, in one voice, putting pressure upon Pilate to release Barabbas instead of Jesus, to the end that the Son of God would be destroyed. Therefore, immediately, when the Chief Priests and Officers “saw” Jesus, “they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him”, and then the whole multitude followed their lead (Jn. 19:6).
“But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.” Matt. 27:20-23
“But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.” – Mk. 15:11-14
“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: (Who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified.” – Lk. 23:18-23
Such a resounding cry coming from the Jews is dreadful to imagine! Clearly, Pilate was beginning to be afraid of the unrelenting venom coming from the crowd (Jn. 19:8). Therefore, at some point, he went inside to speak privately with Jesus Christ one last time. The governor knew that the Man didn’t deserve to be condemned to death.
The Condemnation of Rome
Pilate anxiously waited to hear whatever Jesus had to say in one final word, as he deliberated on what to do, and the Son of God confirmed the very same thing that Pilate unwittingly proclaimed before the Jews: namely, the Good News, that Heaven was in control of everything, and therefore it was the will of the Father that Jesus would be condemned to die by crucifixion.
“Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” – Jn. 19:6-11
Despite all these deliberations, we know how it all ends. Eventually, the Jews became even more furious in their loud outcries! The crowd turned riotous in a tumult (Matt. 27:24). This is the one thing that Pilate wanted to prevent. Therefore, at last, Pilate succumbed to the pressure and gave the sentence. However, it wasn’t without the Jews loudly proclaiming their guilt in forcing the governor’s hand to do this. Fearfully, they said, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matt. 27:25)!
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children. Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.” – Matt. 27:24-26
“And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.” – Mk. 15:11-15
“And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.” - Luke 23:23-25
Finally, when Pilate ascended the pavement and sat on the judgment seat to give the sentence, the condemnation uttered by Rome came with the force of Heaven behind it: the Father, presiding over the whole affair, was determined to condemn the sins of the whole world in the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross.