Matthew 27:11–25 (NKJV, also appearing in Mark 15:2–14; Luke 23:2–5, 17-23; John 18:29–40)
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
13 Then Pilate said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.Matthew 27:11-14
Jesus answered Pilate, but only Pilate, in this account of His appearance before the Roman governor. While He did not answer the chief priests, after His initial questioning, He answers Pilate with an answer slightly different. Pilate was trying to ascertain as to whether Jesus was a revolutionary, an insurrectionist trying to overthrow Rome in Israel. When He answered the question of whether He was King of the Jews, it left room for Jesus’ answer to satisfy Pilate, for it was a religious or racial answer rather than a political answer. He had answered the Jews religious or spiritual question (Are you the Christ, the Son of God?), and now answers Pilate’s political question (Are you the King of the Jews?). In John’s account, Jesus’ conversation with Pilate is a bit longer, in which He describes His kingdom as a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly kingdom. Pilate could find not fault in this. In this series of events leading to the crucifixion, Jesus’ words were few, only as many as were necessary to effect His divine purpose.
15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to releasing to the multitude one prisoner whom they wished. 16 And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 Therefore, when they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy.
19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent to him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him.”
20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They said, “Barabbas!”
22 Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?”
They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
23 Then the governor said, “Why, what evil has He done?”
But they cried out all the more, saying, “Let Him be crucified!”
24 When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”
25 And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”Matthew 27:15-25
Pilate found something pure and non-threatening in Jesus. He did not want to punish Him. He sought a reason to release Him, and offered the Jews the opportunity to extend a pardon to a prisoner, as was customary, hoping that posting a terrible criminal nest to Jesus for this choice would garner Jesus His freedom. However, the Jews, in their hatred for Christ, chose to release a desperate criminal instead, sentencing Jesus to His fate. Pilate’s wife warned him against adjudicating this matter, citing a dream that tormented her regarding Jesus. The insistence of the Jewish mob drove Pilate to give consider their wish for fear of an insurgence. He offered to have Jesus chastised or beaten. He insisted that He found no evil in Jesus, but they shouted down his findings, so Pilate washed his hands of the matter, literally, and told them to take care of it themselves. They said that they would take the responsibility for the blood of Christ upon themselves and their children. They sealed their role in the death of Christ, and Jesus was determined to go to the cross.
This poignant, anxious moment, with its horror and drama concerning the Jews sudden and prophetic turn against the Savior, puts the reader in the mind to reflect upon the great sacrifice Jesus made for our sins. Never forget what a great thing Jesus did for those He loves. Pilate looked for answers, and found some. What will you learn from Jesus’ great love for mankind?