Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Driving History

Titles aren't the key.

John 19:7–12a (ESV)

The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

From then on Pilate sought to release him,

How can Pilate be even more afraid? More than what? There’s no mention of him being afraid before.

This appears to be a Greek idiom. Pilate was afraid more than he was interested in complying with the wishes of the mob. However, the word afraid still stands. The phrase, “Son of God,” has shaken Pilate.

Previously, the charge was that Jesus claimed to be a king. Now that has shifted to something that scares Pilate. We don’t know his religion, but something about the title Son of God bothers him. Given Jesus’s extraordinarily fearless behavior, Pilate’s imagination now seems to be running wild. He doesn’t know what he’s dealing with.

So, Pilate asks, “Where are you from?” If Jesus had said something like, “Olympus,” Pilate might have fled. (The Roman gods were little more than a rebranding of the Greek gods.)

Jesus’s silence is just as scary. Pilate sounds like he is trying to convince someone (himself?) when he explains his authority. Jesus is supposed to be afraid—everyone in His situation is afraid—but not Jesus.

Jesus confirms that Pilate does have authority, but it comes from a higher authority. Then He delivers the punchline, “Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.

This absolutely takes Pilate down. Jesus doesn’t care about life and death; He cares about sin. He’s saying that Pilate doesn’t have the greater sin, but he still has sin. In the context of Jesus’s incredible bravery, this shakes Pilate to the core. From then on Pilate sought to release him.

Pilate has tried to release Jesus already, multiple times. This sentence elevates that to the next level.

Now it’s his focus.


Pilate looks and sounds important, but he’s actually a bit player in this drama. That’s the point of, “Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” Pilate might wish to change the course of events, but that’s not what’s going to happen. Pilate will cave.

There’s a great lesson in this—history is often not driven by people with grand titles.

It’s driven by people with courage.


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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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

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.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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