When all was said and done, it came down to who was king.
There was a lot about Jesus that Pilate didn’t get. A king over a kingdom not of this world? Huh? Fulfilling a destiny to bear witness to the truth? What is truth?
Nope, he didn’t get Jesus. But what he did get was that he could “find no guilt in Him” — that’s repeated three times in John’s account (Jn. 18:38, 19:4, 6).
And then, when he finds out that the real reason the Jews want to put Jesus to death is because “He has made Himself the Son of God”, well, that just freaks Pilate out and “he was even more afraid” (19:7-8). So, Pilate goes from not getting Jesus to not wanting anything to do with Jesus.
And yet, in the end, he orders Jesus to be executed. What gives?
Like I said, when all was said and done, it came down to who was king.
From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this Man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered Him over to them to be crucified.
(John 19:12-16 ESV)
We have no king but Caesar. If Caesar is king, then Jesus is expendable.
For the Jews, they’d say whatever they had to in order to see Jesus sentenced to death. Though I cringe at their words, pretty sure they had no love for Caesar or Rome. But they were in love with the position they held under their Roman rulers. So, they’d kiss Caesar’s feet if it meant the continuance of Caesar’s favor.
But Pilate? They backed him into a corner.
If you release this Man, you are not Caesar’s friend.
Gotta choose. Friend of Caesar, or follower of Christ? Power and position in the governments of this world, or allegiance and faithfulness to the God of this world? Give yourself to the kingdom of men, or die to self for the kingdom of heaven? Do what you need to secure your earthly position, or go against the flow for the sake of the heavenly promise?
For Pilate, they called it. It came down to who was king.
Any different for us? Thinking not.
We have no king but Jesus.
Only by His grace. To Him be the glory.