John 18:38b–9:6 (ESV)
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.
Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
The flogging is standard practice in Roman crucifixion cases. Jesus is being tortured by soldiers whose day job is to execute people who have been judged guilty of serious crimes by a structured bureaucracy.
Pause and consider what doing that job, day-after-day, would do to a soldier’s soul. Mercy is completely out of place. The purpose of the brutality is to suppress crime. They want people to be willing to do anything they can to avoid having this horror visited upon themselves. These guys need to be monsters.
Those monsters are now toying with Jesus. After flogging, they play dress-up with Him and mockingly say, “Hail, King of the Jews!”
They love their job.
But why would Pilate let these monsters do this to Jesus, then still want to get Him off?
He doesn’t seem to care a whit about Jesus, but he may also think this could help Him.
Pilate had initially said, “I find no guilt in him.” Then he tried to release Jesus based on a custom, but the people wanted Barabbas instead. So, he has Jesus beaten and announces to the crowd, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
Then he brings out the beaten and comically dressed Jesus, crown, robe and all, and famously says, “Behold the man.”
Pilate could be thinking that the spectacle of seeing Jesus in the hands of sadistic monsters would inspire sympathy from the crowd. If so, he’s sadly mistaken. The sight inspires them to clamor for Him to be crucified.
Pilate, now clearly annoyed, fires back, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”
He’s not loving his job.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.