Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified
24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.
Jesus Is Mocked
27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.
Judas decided to betray Jesus after a party. A woman had poured expensive perfume over Jesus’ feet. It was a lavish gift and a beautiful expression of love. Jesus saw it as an act of worship. The disciples saw it as a waste of money. And it was after this event that Judas, one of the twelve apostles, went to the chief priests and negotiated a fee of thirty pieces of silver to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14–16).
The night before He was crucified, Jesus shared a meal with His disciples. “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer,” He said (Luke 22:15). Judas was at the table, and Jesus reached out to him in love. “One of you is going to betray me,” He said (John 13:21). John asked Jesus who would do such a thing, and Jesus told him it would be the person to whom He gave the bread. Then Jesus offered the bread to Judas, who took it and left the room, going out into the night (John 13:22–30).
Agony in the Garden
After the meal, Jesus went with His three closest disciples into a garden called Gethsemane, where He faced the full horror of the suffering that lay ahead. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” He said (Matthew 26:38). Then He went to pray alone.
In a deep agony of spirit, Jesus cried out to the Father: “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (26:39). Then, in a conclusive act of commitment to the Father, He said, “If it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (26:42).
After He had finished praying, Jesus returned to the three disciples who had fallen asleep. At that moment Judas arrived, leading a large crowd armed with swords and clubs. When Judas identified Him, Jesus was arrested and taken to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest.
All the disciples abandoned Jesus and fled. He was utterly alone as He entered the beginning of His suffering.
“Who Hit You?”
The events that took place in the house of Caiaphas were a strange mixture of a trial and an interrogation. The high priest placed Jesus under oath.
“Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God,” he demanded (Matthew 26:63).
“You have said so,” Jesus replied (26:64).
That answer ignited the fury of the high priest. Caiaphas accused Jesus of blasphemy, and the seventy members of the ruling council pronounced Jesus worthy of death. Then, gathering round Jesus, they spat in His face and struck Him with their fists. They blindfolded Jesus and took turns striking Him. “Prophesy. . . . Who hit you?” they said (26:68).
Calling Down Curses
While all this was going on, Peter had come to the courtyard outside the high priest’s house. Someone who had been with Judas in the garden recognized Peter as a follower of Jesus and challenged him (John 18:26).
Peter erupted in anger, calling down curses on himself and swearing that he did not know Jesus. Peter’s violent language expressed what he felt. He wished with all his heart that he had never had anything to do with Jesus.
At that very moment Jesus was dragged from the high priest’s house across the courtyard. Covered in spittle and bruised from many blows, He heard the voice of His friend Peter cursing, swearing, and vowing that he had never known Jesus.
Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter as he was speaking (Luke 22:61). The sound of Peter’s profanity must have wounded Jesus more than any of the blows in the high priest’s house.
Maintaining Law and Order
Caiaphas handed Jesus over to Pilate, the Roman governor who had the authority to sentence Jesus to death. Pilate was convinced that there was no basis for a charge against Jesus, and so in an attempt to avoid making a decision, he sent Jesus to King Herod. But Herod sent Him back.
Pilate called the chief priests together and told them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death” (Luke 23:14–15).
At this point the crowd that had gathered began chanting and calling for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate’s duty was to uphold law and order. But there was no law and there was no order in his actions, only the worst kind of self-interest. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent, but the people were calling for His death, and Pilate feared a riot. So he handed Jesus over.
A Crown for the King
There was deep hatred in the vicious cruelty poured out on Jesus. First, He was flogged. A leather lash studded with pieces of bone lacerated His back.
Then He was stripped. Soldiers dressed Him in a scarlet robe and began to mock Him. Christ had claimed to be King, so they decided to give Him a crown. Someone cut down some branches from a thorn bush, twisted them together, and forced them onto His head. They put a reed in His hand and knelt down in mockery, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29; Mark 15:18; John 19:3) They spat on Him, and then they took the reed and struck Him on the head repeatedly.
The brutality of this extended torture was such that the face of Jesus was disfigured beyond recognition (see Isaiah 52:14). And after all this abuse, they led Jesus away to be crucified.
A View from the Third Valley
The sufferings of Jesus show the depth of hatred toward God hidden inside human hearts. The deepest problem of human nature is not our ignorance about God but our rebellion against God. If Jesus came to our culture today, we would crucify Him all over again. We would not use a cross and nails. We would do it with ridicule on talk shows. The hatred would be the same.
Jesus suffered at the hands of human beings. He came to us, and we crucified Him. That shows the depth of the human sinfulness in which we all have some share.
- How would you explain the extreme cruelty and violence that was poured out on Jesus? Why did Jesus not retaliate?