Summary: Jesus chose to go to the cross - to be beaten and spat upon and to be separated from the Father - even though He didn’t have to. The question is: why did He do it? Also learn when it’s right to speak up and when to remain silent.
1 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.
The Jewish religious leadership had already decided to try to get Jesus killed - they had done it at night, against Jewish law. So in order to appear to follow the law, they met early in the morning to officially make their decision. But they couldn’t just go out and do it - because of the Roman occupation. Rome had taken away the Jews ability to carry out a capital sentence - so the Jews, who hated the Romans, had to turn to the Romans to do their dirty work. Its amazing how low people will go to fight against God - doing things they never would have imagined.
This is a short version of the story - Mark focuses on the key elements of the story. We don’t get the elongated conversation between the Roman governor and Jesus - only the bottom line:
2 "Are you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate.
"Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
Jesus was arrested on theological grounds - that is, blaspheme for calling Himself God. But that wouldn’t stand in a Roman court - so the Jewish religious leaders try to portray Jesus as a rebel - a rebel king.
3 The chief priests accused him of many things. 4 So again Pilate asked him, "Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of."
5 But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.
The Jews had tried to find Jesus guilty - but could not pin anything real on Him. Pilate too we hear in other gospels, thought Jesus was innocent. In the end, it was shear mob pressure that forced Pilate to have Jesus murdered.
6 Now it was the custom at the Feast to release a prisoner whom the people requested. 7 A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. 8 The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.
Apparently this may have been a way for Pilate, who was hated by the Jews, to try to get on their good side.
9 "Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.
Pilate may have been cruel but he was no dummy. He recognized that Jesus was innocent, but this time the jealousy of the religious leaders would force him into an awkward position.
12 "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them.
Perhaps Pilate thought that this would be a way out for him - not wanting to suffer the guilt of putting an innocent man to death. As if that wasn’t enough, we know from Matthew’s gospel (27:19) that Pilate’s wife had a nightmare about Jesus and begged Pilate not to have anything to do with him. His gut was telling him Jesus was innocent - and so was his wife - but in the end he does not heed the warnings and goes with the crowd.
13 "Crucify him!" they shouted.
The Jews wanted Jesus crucified because it carried with it a curse - Deut 21:23
"?anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse."
14 "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!"
In the end it didn’t matter that Jesus was innocent - the miracles, the truths, the claims, the character - nothing stood in the way of the religious leaders getting what they wanted. Mob mentality is a very dangerous thing. You may sometimes find yourself in a situation where those around you are pressuring you to do things you know in your heart are not right. The question is, will you stand up, or give in?
Exodus 23:1-2 "Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness. 2 "Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.
We see both these things happening in the gospel, and the principal applies to us too - it’s easy to follow the crowd - when you refuse you are treated like a pariah and an outcast.
Pilate bows to the pressure - thinking he is in control, he is not, nor is the crowd - but to show man guilty while still fulfilling his ultimate plan.
15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.