About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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    Jesus Sentenced To Be Crucified (ch. 19:1-17)

We see here in John 19 that Pilate had Jesus flogged.  Roman flogging was not a pretty sight.  As a matter of fact most prisoners died because of being flogged.  The one being flogged would be tied to a low stake in the ground.  That means he would have to be bent over, with no clothes on his back.  A soldier would stand on either side of the one being flogged.  Each one of these soldiers had a whip.  The whip had several strands of leather and on each strand was a sharp piece of bone or metal.  The strands were long enough that they could not only hit the back of the person being flogged but would wrap around to the front of the person.  It has been said that one could often see the intestines pushing out of the holes that were created by the flogging.   


Another way of being flogged was by standing at a pole with your hands tied to a ring at the top of the pole.  You would be flogged from a standing position.   


We should also understand that Jesus was being flogged even before He was convicted and sentenced.  Some Bible teachers suggest that maybe Pilate had Jesus flogged because he thought that would satisfy the Jews, but of course, the Jews wanted Jesus dead, not just flogged.     


Verse 2 tells us that Pilate had a crown of thorns placed on Jesus' head.  We often see pictures of this crown with the thorns piercing into Jesus' head but this might not be the case.  There is sufficient historical evidence believed by scholars that the thorns pointed upward that would have more properly looked like a real crown.  This would clearly be seen as a mockery to Jesus.        


Pilate also dressed Jesus in what John says is a purple robe.  The other gospels say it was a scarlet robe.  The Roman soldiers wore scarlet robes.  If the scarlet robe was at all faded, which it probably was, it most likely looked purple, thus solving the apparent discrepancy.  Again, this was another form of mockery.  To dress a Jew in a robe that looked like Roman royalty would have been blasphemy for a Jew, but of course, the Jews who wanted to see Jesus dead would have had no problem with that.      


We see the soldiers hitting Jesus in verse 3 as another form of mockery.  They were heard calling Jesus the King of the Jews.  The Greek word translated as "struck" seems to imply an open handed slap.     


In verse 4, after the flogging Pilate brought Jesus out to the Jews again.  It appears Pilate was hoping that the flogging would be suitable punishment for Jesus and that the Jews would accept this form of punishment.  Pilate did not find any fault in Jesus, especially sufficient fault to warrant his execution, but this did not satisfy the Jews.  They cried out "Crucify Him."  The Jews wanted Jesus crucified, or, hung on a tree, because the Law of Moses stated that a man who hung on a tree was cursed of God, and they felt that Jesus was so cursed because of His claim to divinity.  


In verse 5 Pilate wanted to free Jesus.  At this point he was getting frustrated with the Jews.  In verse 6 Pilate tells the Jewish leadership to go and crucify Jesus themselves.  There are a couple points to note here.  First of all the Jews had no legal authority to execute anyone in any fashion.  Second, if they did have the authority to execute someone, they would do it by stoning, not by crucifixion.  If the Jews had actually taken Pilateís words seriously then they would have been in serious trouble themselves.  I'm sure Pilate realized that the Jews were not legally permitted to crucify Jesus.  To me, this simply shows Pilate's frustration with the Jews and the whole situation.  


In verse 7 the Jews tell Pilate that they have a law.  There law said that anyone who claimed deity should die, but their problem was that Roman law would not allow them to execute the one claiming deity, thus the Romans had to execute Jesus on their behalf. 


In verse 8 and 9 John tells us that Pilate was "Now even more afraid."  From these words we learn that Pilate began to have some fear over this situation with Jesus.  The word "more" tells us that he already had a measure of fear.  Pilate feared executing an innocent man.  He feared the Roman Emperor if he made the wrong move here.  He feared the mob turning violent, which would give him more fear of Caesar Tiberius.  This was not an easy time for Pilate.  


Upon hearing the words from the Jews about their law stating that Jesus must die, Pilate went back into the room to question Jesus further.


Pilate asks Jesus where He came from; maybe hoping to find out more information from Jesus, but Jesus did not answer.  By not answering Pilate we see that Jesus had no fear of Pilate, and why should He.  He was, and is, the supreme authority over all things.  


In verse 10 Pilate then asks Jesus why He refuses to speak to him.  Pilate proceeded to tell Jesus that he had the power to save Jesusí life or to destroy His life.  Pilate was saying that he was the real one in charge, but of course, Jesus knew better.   


Jesusí answer is important.  I have always loved Jesus answer as seen in verse 11.  He tells Pilate that he does not have nay authority over Him other than what was given to him from above, meaning God.  Pilate thought he was in charge, but he wasn't.  God was in charge.  It was Godís desire, His divine will, to have Jesus put to death for the sin of mankind.  This is clearly seen in Isaiah 53.  Jesus was resting secure in this fact.  Although under all sorts of pressure and stress Jesus knew for sure what He was going through was Godís will and this assuredness could be seen in this answer to Pilate.  Pilate appeared to have the power to save or destroy Jesus, and so he did, but, the only reason why he had such power is because God the Father allowed him to have this power.  This shows us once again that it is God, who works behind the scene, who has the final word in all political decisions made here on earth.   


Jesus then says something very interesting.  He says, "Therefore, the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."  There are a couple of points to be made here. The first point is that Jesus appears to suggest that some sins are greater than others.  All sins are a sin against God and bring separation between God and man, yet, all sins do not have the same consequences.  Killing a person clearly has worst consequences than being angry at that person, yet Jesus isnít really talking about the consequence of sin here, He is speaking of the sin itself.  Some sins are just worst than other sins.


Who had the worst sin in this case?  Jesus said that the one who handed Him over to Pilate had the worse sin, and that would be Caiaphas.  Why was Caiaphasí sin worse?   Jesus came to the Jews to bring them to salvation, and the Jews were in the process of rejecting Him, of which Caiaphas was their spiritual leader.  Caiaphas was not only participating in murder, but leading the Jews in unbelief in Jesus.  Not believing in Jesus is worse than killing Him.  The whole rejection process was wrapped up in Caiaphasí actions.  Also, Caiaphas had more spiritual light than Pilate.  God is just.  He judges justly and if Pilate had less understanding than Caiaphas then he would be judged less severe. The Biblical fact is true.  Those with more understanding will be required of more godly actions.  


We canít diminish Pilateís roll in the murder of Jesus.  It was a serious sin, yet Jesus Himself said that Pilateís sin was less than the one who handed Him over to Pilate.  You might say that Pilate was a passive aggressive person in this situation.  He allowed the death of Jesus because of the pressure he faced.  The Jews were not passive in this situation, only aggressive.     


We can therefore conclude that some sins are worse than others and probably have different levels of punishment.  Still, sin is sin.  Any sin, no matter how big or small is still a sin against God in the Long run and has a measure of separation between Him and the sinner. Each and every sin had to be atoned for.  


Verse 12 tells us that Pilate tried harder to set Jesus free.  He could not find reason to put Jesus to death, but the Jews told him that if he lets Jesus go he would not be a friend of Caesar.  The Jews pointed out to Pilate that anyone who claims to be a king canít be on the same side as Caesar, and if Pilate sides with Jesus, then Pilate himself would be committing treason.  Pilate could not refute this argument.  Pilate was in one real predicament.   


In verse 13 we see Pilate had Jesus brought outside to the courtyard where there was a special platform the Stone Pavement or Gabbatha.  Gabbatha is an Aramaic word with uncertain origins.  Here Pilate would act as the judge in this matter.  Heíd sit in the judge's seat and bring forth a verdict.  Just imagine this; an earthly middle of the road ruler sits in judgment of the supreme ruler over all things material and all things spiritual.   


Pilate had to hold these court sessions outside of the court room because if the Jews entered the room they would be defiled on their Passover. 


John says here that this was the Preparation Day, the day before the Passover.  This would make the last supper we read about in John 13 and following not on the Passover as the other gospel accounts suggest.  Many Bible commentators will suggest that John and many other New Testament writers don't necessarily write their accounts in chronological order.  This is more of a Jewish thing than a Gentile thing because it appears to me that Luke, a Gentile, did write his accounts in somewhat of a chronological order.     


In verse 14 Pilate says, "Here is your king."   The Jews refused to accept Jesus as their king and tell Pilate that they have no king but Caesar.  How ironic.  Those proud Jews would never admit that Caesar was their king until now when it was convenient for them.  As a matter of fact, this admission was blasphemous in itself.  This is just another way where we see the Jewish leadership break their own laws for their own personal gain. 


You can see right up to the end that Pilate could not really find any fault in Jesus.  He asks the Jews, "Should I crucify your king."  It was at this point when the Jews responded by saying they have no king but Caesar. 


There seems to also be an apparent discrepancy between the time mentioned here and the time mentioned in the other gospel accounts.  The discrepancy can be resolved when we understand that Jewish time differed from Roman time.  John is probably using Roman time here.    


In verse 16 John tells us that Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified.  This does not mean that the Jews were the ones who took Jesus and actually killed Him.  Handing Jesus over in this instance means giving into the will of the Jews.  It was the Roman soldiers who took Jesus and killed Him while the Jews followed and watched.

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