Wednesday in Holy Week
Scripture: St. John 19:1-12 (NKJV)
1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. 3 Then they said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck Him with their hands. 4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him.” 5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
Jew and Gentile both take part (arguably become allies) in the struggle against God and share the guilt and condemnation of rejecting God’s Christ. Pilate, representative of the Gentile world, holder of a power given him from above, chosen to be custodian of God’s wrath upon the wrongdoer, will not use that power to protect the Man whose innocence he has thrice attested. The divinely appointed guardian of truth and justice shrugs off his responsibility with a skeptical, “What is truth?” and consents to the unjustified crucifixion of the incarnate grace and truth of God. In doing this he aligns himself with the Jewish religious authorities and their rejection of their duty to proclaim and uphold God’s truth before the world.
Verse 11 presents Jesus’ last words to Pilate which divinely confess that all power comes from God. All earthly authority comes ultimately from God. Judas and/or Caiaphas carried the greater sin than Pilate, but “greater” implies that there was a lesser sin, so Pilate’s sin was also real. Sin is sin, and no amount of symbolic hand washing or rationalizing can wash away its stain—only repentance and faith by grace can offer absolution and deliverance from its judgment.
The world united in a sinful attempt to overcome the Light, and Pilate spoke far “truer” than he knew when he presented the scourged and thorn-crowned King of the Jews, robed in purple, with the words, “Behold the man.” He is indeed the man, not the Jew merely, but the Man on Whom the sin of mankind is visited, in Whom the hope of the world lies hidden.