Give them blood, he thought, and that should appease them. A good beating, flayed so they can see muscle. Surely that would satisfy their illogical, unjustifiable animosity. And then add some mockery for good measure. Thinks He’s a king? Then we’ll present a king–a crown of thorns driven into His brow, a purple robe draped over His beaten body. That should be enough.
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. . . . 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!”
(John 19:1-6a ESV)
That Pilate didn’t want to crucify Jesus is evident. Three times he pronounces his verdict to the mob, “I find no guilt in Him” (Jn. 18:38; 19:4, 6). Not that Pilate was overly constrained by truth. After all, what is truth? Not that he believed right and wrong out-ranked self-protecting power. But hey, why crucify someone who’s innocent if you don’t have to?
So it seems like, rather than punishing Jesus for some alleged crime, Pilate was more interested in trying to placate the priests. Give them enough destruction that they’d forget about demanding death. Enough gore that maybe they might even feel a twinge of guilt. Enough blood so that they’d back off. But it wasn’t enough.
And as I chew on this showdown in Pilate’s court, I’m reminded afresh that it really wasn’t enough. That, had Jesus only suffered at the hands of men, His mission would have come up short.
For it wasn’t about appeasing a maniacal mob. Instead, it was all about satisfying the wrath of a holy and just God. And, for that, Jesus would need to die.
. . . without shedding of blood there is no remission. . . . so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. (Hebrews 9:22b, 28a ESV)
What wages were owed for my sin? What price needed to be paid for my redemption? What sacrifice would be required for my deliverance?
The humiliation of the One by whom all things were created wouldn’t do it. The flogging of the Father’s beloved and well-pleasing Son couldn’t do it. But only the Lamb of God, offered once for all for the transgressions of all people, could make atonement for sin and a way of reconciliation for sinners.
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” ~ Jesus
(Luke 9:22 ESV)
That day wasn’t about some despot’s lame attempt at subduing a crowd’s bloodlust. It was about a vessel of God, being compelled to make an offering to God, to satisfy the wrath of God, that we might know peace with God. And this through the death of the Son of God.
It was about Jesus, come as a babe in the manager, dying for my sin. And it was enough!
What wondrous grace! To God be the glory!