It is a stunning question. How will I answer?
It could be asked of me. I am in the crowd. I know who Jesus is. What do I want Pilate to do with Jesus?
Will I say “Nail Him to a cross?”
What crime has He committed?
Will I yell, louder and louder, “Nail Him to a cross”?
But the chief priests stirred up the crowd so that he would release Barabbas to them instead. Pilate asked them again, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call the King of the Jews?”
Again they shouted, “Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?”
But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him!”
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them; and after having Jesus flogged, he handed him over to be crucified.
It is odd that the governor has no interest in whether Jesus is the Son of God. Instead, he asks if Jesus is the king of the Jews. Jesus does not give a straight answer. Pilate must decide for himself.
Both the Jewish high priest and the Roman governor state the truth about Jesus — but don’t believe it.
At Passover time, the governor has the custom of releasing a prisoner. He suggests that this year he release Jesus. However the crowd, encouraged by the priests, shout support for Barabbas. Barabbas has proved himself to be a man of action. He is a rebel and a convicted murderer. The people clamor for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be crucified.
Pilate gives in to the pressure, although he knows Jesus is innocent. He has Jesus flogged — tied to a post and whipped front and back. The whip is a cruel instrument of torture, made from multiple strands of leather, each set with fragments of metal and bone
There is another question here!
What evil has Jesus done? Yikes! Nothing. He is the perfect Son of God.
Imagine the hatred of all of this.
And now this …
Then followed the disgraceful mockery by the soldiers, as they beat Him, spat on Him, and bowed in mock homage. Roman soldiers would certainly laugh at a Jew who claimed to be a king!
“We have no king but Caesar!” (John 19:12–15)
A scarlet cavalry cloak and a rough crown made from the thorn bushes that grow everywhere in Palestine were enough to show a mock king. The soldiers’ ‘Hail’ was what they might have given to a king like Herod, or even to Caesar himself, but all was mockery.
The Roman force of occupation was feared by the ordinary people of Palestine for its cruelty and oppression. Abuse, if not actual torture, was common, as we can see from John’s words to the repentant soldiers.
So we should not be surprised at the beating and spitting, or even at the cruel flogging that left prisoners half dead before execution. Yet one soldier at least was so moved by what he saw and heard at the cross that he confessed that Jesus was the Son of God (15:39). (In Acts 10 we read of a Roman soldier who was baptized by Peter.)
Our Master quietly suffered and did not fight back, a lesson that Mark’s readers would need to learn as they faced official persecution.
But men had not yet done their worst to God’s Son.
Now they would lead Him outside the city and nail Him to a cross, and the Servant would die for the sins of the very people who were crucifying Him.