Question: Why did Pilate deliver Jesus to be crucified, even though he knew Jesus was innocent?
Answer: Even though Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, he yielded to the multitude. Sometimes we yield to the “multitude” and do things we know we shouldn’t. We need to learn to stand firm in our convictions as the Savior did.
1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him (had him whipped).
2 And the soldiers plaited (wove) a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe (mockingly symbolic of his being “King of the Jews”),
3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote (hit) him with their hands.
4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him (I do not find him guilty of any crime).
5 Then came Jesus forth (where the crowd could see him), wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man (just look at the man)!
6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.
7 The Jews answered him, We have a law (a law against blasphemy making it punishable by death), and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself (claimed to be) the Son of God.
8 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid;
9 And went again into the judgment hall, and saith (said) unto Jesus, Whence art thou (Where do you come from)? But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? (Don’t you realize I have power to have you crucified or to set you free?)
11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he (Caiaphas) that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.
12 And from thenceforth (from then on) Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Cæsar. (If you release him, you are not loyal to Caesar.)
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.
14 And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!
15 But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priest (Caiaphas) answered, We have no king but Cæsar.
16 Then delivered he (Pilate) him (Jesus) therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
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Alexander B. Morrison:
When Jesus was arraigned before Pilate, after a dark, hate-filled night of insult and abuse, the haughty Roman procurator quickly discerned that this was no ordinary mortal. Jesus displayed none of the cringing servility or false bravado characteristic of those who pled for their lives before the power of imperial Rome. He stood quietly before the proud Roman, unbowed, majestic, His demeanor mild yet regal. “Art thou a king then?” Pilate inquired (John 18:37).
Jesus, the King of Kings, whose Father would have provided for the asking “more than twelve legions of angels” (Matt. 26:53), whose glory and majesty transcended anything Pilate—or indeed any mortal man—could even comprehend, answered simply: “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). Pilate, a weak and vacillating man, devoid of integrity and not overly burdened by principles, retorted cynically, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Then, though he found no fault in Jesus and knew of a certainty that He was no political firebrand nor threat to Roman power and authority, Pilate yielded to the bloodlust of the crowd and delivered Christ to His crucifiers.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 96; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 1, Volume 2, by David J. Ridges, 320; Excerpt from General Conference, October 1999, “For This Cause Came I into the World” by Alexander B. Morrison, First Quorum of the Seventy.