John 19:1-11

Henry Mahan

(Vs. l) Having failed in his attempt to release Jesus by forcing the Jews to choose between Barabas and Christ, Pilate ordered the Lord to be scourged. It appears that he thought that they might be satisfied with Jesus being scourged and released, for scourging was horrible torture (John 19:12). The victim was stripped naked, fastened to a post, and severely whipped (Isa. 53:5).

(Vs. 2-3) This scourging was followed by a mock coronation in the soldiers' hall (Matt. 27:26-31). The soldiers wanted to torture Him and also to mock the fact that tie was said to be "the King of the Jews." The cruel, thorny crown served both purposes. Perhaps this crown of thorns reaches back to Gen. 3:18 in connection with the thorns and thistles promised Adam's sons as a result of the fall. Our Lord bore the curse of sin for us (Gal. 3:13). The soldiers threw about His shoulders a purple robe (probably a faded old soldier's mantle), put a reed in His hand to represent a king's sceptre (Gen. 49:10), and marched about striking Him with their fists, spitting upon Him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews." Our Lord was delivered to Pilate charged with making Himself King. He was mocked by the soldiers as a king, and He was crucified with this charge written over His head, "The King of the Jews." He is indeed the King of kings and Lord of lords and will be owned, received, and acknowledged as such by all whom He saves (Rom. 10:9-10) and one day by every creature (Phil. 2:9-11).

(Vs. 4-5) Pilate was a troubled, confused man. He was afraid of this man, Jesus Christ (Matt. 27:19), he did not want to get the Jews stirred up against him, he was worried that word of this tumult should get to Caesar and endanger his position, and he found no fault in Christ, knowing the Jews had an evil motive in it all (Matt. 27:18). So he tried one more plan! Pilate went out before the people and said, "Behold, I bring Him forth to you that you may know that I find no fault in Him." He hoped to reach some sympathy and compassion in this mob; so he pointed to Jesus Christ, as He was led forth, and said, "Behold, the man!" Not "your king," for this would have provoked them, but a man like yourselves who ought to be treated with some sympathy and compassion. Our Lord came forth wearing the crown of thorns, the mocking robe, bloody and beaten, His face and body marred as no other man (Isa. 52:14). Pilate hoped that they would be satisfied with what had been done to Him.

(Vs. 6) It is significant to note who looked upon the Lord in this terrible condition and began to cry, "Crucify Him, crucify Him." It was not the people but the chief priests and officers of the temple–men who made great pretensions to piety and religion. How wicked is the unregenerate heart, especially when it is clothed in religious garb! Pilate said, "You crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him." It is also significant how many times Pilate said, "I find no fault in Him" (John 18:38; 19:4; 19:6). By means of Pilate, our God declares the innocence and holiness of Jesus Christ (I Peter 2:21-22; Isa. 53: 9-10). Our Lord is the perfect Man, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin; as such He is our representative and our righteousness before God (Rom. 5:19; I Peter 3:18). In His holy life He honored the law for us, and in His death He satisfied Divine justice (Rom. 4:25).

(Vs. 7) The law they referred to was the law for putting false prophets to death (Deut. 18:20; Lev. 24:16). They understood perfectly what the Lord Jesus had said to them (John 10:30-33). He declared Himself to be God; and for this, according to their law, they insisted that He must die.

(Vs. 8-9) On top of all his other fears and doubts, this new revelation caused Pilate to be more afraid. Is it possible that this prisoner is related to Deity? He remembered his wife's dream and warning, he knew that Jesus was innocent, he certainly had heard of the man's life and miracles, and he had to be impressed with the Lord's conduct throughout this whole affair. He took the Saviour back into the judgment hall and asked, "Where are you from?" But Christ gave him no answer. He deserved no answer! He had totally ignored every word Christ spoke, compromised justice by scourging an innocent man, and had no other motive through it all except his own welfare. However, our Lord was willing to die for His people and made no defense (Isa. 53:7).

(Vs. 10-11) Pilate's reply is natural. He is fearful and afraid, his conscience is troubling him, his whole domain is up in arms over this ONE MAN, and being totally confused at the serenity and calmness of this Jesus, Who refuses to defend Himself while facing death on a cruel cross, He cried, "Do you stand in silence and refuse to answer me when you know that I have the power to crucify you or release you? How dare you! Do you know who I am and what power I have?" Our Lord replied, "You could have no power or authority over Me at all, except the power My Father allows you to have" (John 3:27; Acts 4:26-28). Our Lord is saying that Pilate, like Pharaoh, was an instrument used by God to accomplish His purpose and glory (Rom. 9:17). The greater sin belonged to these religious leaders who so grossly sinned against the Scriptures they claimed to believe and the light God had given as they heard Christ speak (Luke 12:47-48).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.