John 19:1-16

John 19:1-16 … Pilate is torn between what he knows is right and the demands of an unruly crowd of priests and people outside his door. In an apparent attempt to appease the crowd, he ordered a scourging, which is an ancient word for whipping with thongs imbedded with sharp particles of glass or stone that ripped the flesh horribly. Even the crown of thorns caused bleeding and intense pain. There is a plant in Israel today called the “Crown of Thorns” that has three-inch thorns so sharp they could be used as sewing needles. Whether this was the “crown” used or not, the image is terrible to consider.

Then Pilate went back outside again to confront the chief priests and for the second time, pronounced the bleeding and abused Savior innocent of any crime (19:4). Pilate tried once more to deflect the decision, in effect telling the chief priests: “you take Him yourselves because I find him innocent” (v.6). This was Pilate’s third “not guilty” pronouncement. After hearing the Jews protest that Jesus has violated their religious traditions, Pilate went back inside his Praetorium to confront the bleeding Christ.

The prophecy of Isaiah 53:7, written 700 years before this moment, records this: “He was oppressed and afflicted … led like a lamb to the slaughter … he did not open His mouth.” That prophecy is fulfilled right at this moment when Pilate confronted Jesus (19:9). When he did speak (v.11), Jesus told the fearful Pilate that God is the ultimate authority, and, while implying the great sin of the spineless Pilate, the one who brought Jesus to this tribunal had the greater sin. That could refer to Judas, but more likely refers to the high priest Caiaphas who actually brought Jesus before the Roman civil court. John 19:12 indicates that yet another time, Pilate went out to the courtyard attempting to appease the crowds, but was shouted down. It is an ugly scene, but one that God has foretold through Isaiah (Isaiah 53:5): “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

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