Caesar’s Friend

John 19:12-14.

And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release Him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this Man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.

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.

And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!

To Pilate’s credit, he didn’t give in immediately. As he had said, he did not find any fault at all in Jesus. The Jews, however, were determined. They played on Pilate’s greatest fear: Being called out by Rome for supporting an insurrection. “If you let Him go, you are not Caesar’s friend! Anyone who calls himself King is against Caesar!”

Not that the Jewish leaders care a whit about Caesar. They hated him, and the authority Rome used against them in the name of Caesar. They used the threat of Caesar’s disapproval, though, to their own advantage. The only Roman response to insurrection was death, by scourging and crucifixion. They demanded the most horrific death possible for Jesus.

They didn’t realize that it had been planned before the creation of the worlds.

Remember, Pilate was married to Caesar’s granddaughter. His marriage was the only reason he’d been given the not-so-great posting in Judea. Still, he was terrified of losing his position, and the last thing he needed was to be considered to support the claims of kingship by a Jewish insurrectionist.

Still, he tried again. Ready to make his final judgment, he climbed the steps to the judgment seat, called gabbatha, meaning high, raised up. Perhaps it was the steps that led to the judgement seat that were referred to as the pavement.

There is some controversy, for which I could find no definitive answers, about the time Pilate pronounced final judgment. All we are certain of is that it was sometime in the morning, before noon or not later than noon. Jesus had been up all night, transferred back and forth, held by soldier,s mocked, slapped, punched, His beard ripped out, scourged, spat upon, crowned with thorns, beaten beyond recognition. The fact that He was still standing is a testament to His physical strength and His character.

Pilate presented this tortured Man once more, telling them to Behold their King! Many believe this was said in sarcasm, and was indicative that Pilate had made up his mind. He would give in to the Jews to avoid being held as treasonous against Caesar.

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