… Then, arraying Him in splendid clothing, he sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:11b).
Pilate has examined Jesus and found no crime based on the charges made against Him. This was also the case with Herod or he would have condemned Him. Again, Jesus should be set free immediately. Instead, however, Pilate proposes a solution, “I will therefore punish and release Him.”
Perhaps Pilate thinks he is offering the Jewish leaders a way to save face before their people. They surely wouldn’t want him to release Jesus and publicly humiliate them, would they? But seeing Pilate back down from his verdict, the priests know they need to stand their ground, and Pilate will eventually surrender Jesus.
Pilate’s punishment for Jesus was the brutal Roman scourging. It used whips with pieces of bone or lead fastened to the tips. After this horrific violence, Pilate honors a custom, giving the crowds their choice of two criminals. He offers them a severely abused Jesus or the most dangerous criminal in prison: Barabbas. Pilate may not realize it, but he has lowered Jesus to the status of a criminal, thus making it easier for the Jewish leaders and the crowds to call for His death. The Jewish leaders convince the Jews to demand Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ crucifixion.
For a third time Pilate asks what terrible thing this Man has done? The judge is now pleading with the people; he has totally lost control of this trial. The crowds increasingly demand Jesus’ crucifixion. Their voices prevail over Pilate’s sense of justice. He orders Barabbas released, and Jesus is to be handed over to their will.
Jesus’ prophecy about His passion has been accomplished: Judas handed Jesus over to His Jewish enemies; the Jews handed Jesus over to Pilate, and Pilate now hands Jesus over to the crowds that are demanding His crucifixion.
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, Pilate watched Your trial spiral out of control. Help me see that You were in complete control, winning my salvation by Your innocent suffering and death. Amen.
*Thank you to Lutheran Hour Ministries for providing this devotion.