Summary: Pilate's decision to relent to the crowd carries with it some far reaching meanings...

Luke 23:13- [ESV] Read passage...


Jesus is taken in a midnight raid to arrest Him. He is then subjected to brutal treatment for hours before being brought before 1st the High Priest and then the Roman authority, who then shuffles Him off to the ‘client king’… Herod. Herod, wants Jesus to perform for him and when Jesus refuses, Herod mocks Jesus and sends Him back to Pilate…

Both Pilate and Herod found no fault in Jesus and now Jesus stands before Pilate once again. Pilate is facing a quandary at this time… He has a standing order from Rome to keep the peace, at all costs, this was the mantra of the Roman Empire.

They would allow the local people to worship as they desired, and even govern accordingly, as long as two things were accomplished, first and foremost, the taxes kept flowing to Rome. And the 2nd and just as important was that peace was maintained! Rome believed that a happy people were a people who would not rebel or revolt…

Keeping the peace could be accomplished in many ways and Rome implemented all of them… from political favors to bringing out troops as a show of strength to sending troops in to do what was necessary to quell the uprising (whatever it was)…Pilate had used them all!

However, when possible, Rome did NOT want to use troops because that would also bring about feelings of rebellions and revolt from the people. Troops were a measure of last resort for Pilate…

This is where we pick up the story beginning in v.13-16:

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14and said to 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. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.”

Pilate addresses the crowd who had gathered in response what was going on… I am sure that this crowd had grown out of the mob that had come in the middle of the night to arrest Jesus… then had gotten larger as Jesus was taken before the High Priest, and possibly they had followed Jesus to Pilate the 1st time and then to Herod… and now back to Pilate…

At this time the religious leaders had convinced this crowd that Jesus was blaspheming God… Religious zealots are the most passionate activists on this planet! We see evidence of this in our world today… suicide bombers… flying planes into hi-rise bldgs… using children to carry bombs… religious zealots do not think about what is right, but they are focused on what they believe, regardless of its morality.

In 1994, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians died and took 54 adults and 21 children to their deaths… following a man whom they BELIEVED was divine. Their actions took the lives of several federal agents as well…

Marshall Applewhite in 1997 and those who followed him in what we know as the “Heaven’s gate” cult… took 39 people to their deaths in a mass suicide… all died based on their religious zealotry for this man!

Jim Jones in 1978 led and forced over 900 people in a religious fevor to precede him in death…as he forced them to drink poison after he murdered a US Congressman and most of his travel party… Jones then followed by suicide by gunshot!

My point is… this crowd had been whipped into a religious fervor of a frenzy and there was NOTHING that was going to satisfy them other than the death of this man Jesus! In these verses we can see Pilate making the attempt to reason with this crowd.

In fact in v.16 Pilate makes a proclamation that he has made a decision. His decision is that Jesus is NOT guilty of anything and he was going to let Him go. BUT… to appease this blood-thirsty crowd, Pilate makes the feeble offer of chastising Jesus before He is released.

The word chastise here is the Greek word PAY-DEN’N-SAS which means to punish, but it is related to more of a parent punishing his child, or a judge punishing a criminal for a minor offense. In the minds of this crowd, Pilate was simply going to ‘spank’ Jesus and let Him go… and that was not good enough for them.

Now this punishment was NOT something that was easy on the person receiving it… it was still brutal, but it was NOT Crucifixion!

v.17 is omitted by many Bibles because it does not appear in most manuscripts… this is the verse where it is said that Pilate was obliged to release a prisoner during the festival…

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