19 Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3 and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. 4 Pilate came out again and *said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” 5 Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” 6 So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.” 8 Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; 9 and he entered into the Praetorium again and *said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” 12 As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.” 13 Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he *said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” 15 So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate *said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
We know this story. We relive it every Easter. In one way or another we are faced with the flogging and mocking of Jesus before His crucifixion. I have heard dramatic accounts of the process. If you have seen “The Passion,” then you have seen a quite gory yet accurate depiction of the process. I’ve even heard lessons about the implications of this all: the crown of long thick thorns, the robe sticking to the drying blood on His flesh, etc. Is that all we get out of this, though? Today, we are enamored with action, gore, and even persecution. We tend to look at this part of the story and shake our heads. Some of us take on the guilt of what happened to Him, since He was afflicted by both Gentile and Jew. Yet we forget that we are forgiven.
We tend to see the “dressing up” of Jesus as King as a mockery of Him. Yet the conflict here isn’t necessarily between Pilate and Jesus. In fact, Pilate repeatedly tries to have no part of this. The conflict is between Pilate (the Roman official) and the Jews (the oppressed society). Jesus was dressed up and mocked because of the Jews. The Romans were mocking the Jews! The Romans were mocking Him in the Praetorium in an effort to mock them. The Jews had no physical king, they were ruled by Caesar. The Romans held all the power. Pilate had no idea what to do because on one hand he is trying to keep the peace but on the other, this Jesus guy had something going on.
Jesus spoke about being king over a spiritual realm. He was touted as the Son of God. Now He is claiming to be under the authority of God and protected by Him. What is a governor to do? He must appease the masses. His fear began to rule his decisions. Finally, the Jewish mob found a way to convince Pilate: challenge his allegiance to Caesar.
Who’s authority do we answer to? I look at verse 11 and wish I had that kind of resolve. We can see here the contrast between Jesus (under the authority and power of Almighty God) and Pilate (under the authority of mere man, Caesar). Jesus is standing there, mocked, flogged, dripping in sweat and blood without any show of fear. We cannot deny that He was in quite a bit of pain and we know He surely wasn’t looking forward to the cross, yet He revealed the attitude we saw in Job 3:15, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” In His absolute trust and faith in God the Father, He knew that the only reason this all was happening because it was in God’s plan. For some of us, that’s a hard pill to swallow. We don’t like to think God wants us to suffer or endure pain. ON some level I’m sure He doesn’t. This is why there is no pain or strife in heaven. However, He knows that through the pain and suffering, we will be better on the other side of it. A phrase we have learned here at school is, “sometimes the struggle is the point.”
Pilate, on the other hand, has no hope through the struggle. He has no hope in God or trust in Him because He doesn’t know God. Instead, all he knows is Caesar, a relationship based in fear and therefore Pilate succumbs to the fear which outweighs the life of another.
How do we make our decisions? Do we act based on fear? Do we behave in a way designed to placate this world? Why do we live such burdensome lives? Instead we can rest in the authority of God, knowing that whatever it is we face, He will help us endure AND we will grow from it. If the authority of God covers our lives, then we no longer have to act in fear! Friends, do not be afraid! Live in freedom.