Why did Pilate condemn Jesus knowing He was innocent?  

Author: BibleAsk Team

Pilate Tried to Free Jesus

Pontius Pilate had repeatedly announced Christ’s innocence and tried, if possible, to release Him, and if not, to swerve from the responsibility for making a judgment against Him (John 18:38; etc.). This is seen in the following steps:

A- He had tried to convince the Jews to carry on Jesus’ judgement themselves according to their law (John 18:31).

B-He had sent Jesus to Herod hoping to evade the responsibility of making a judgement against Him (Luke 23:7).

C-He had tried to release Jesus as the forgiven Passover prisoner (John 18:39).

D-He had scourged Jesus hoping of raising the sympathy of the Jews for Him, and thus of saving Him from the death penalty (Luke 23:22).

E-His wife warned him from condemning Jesus for she had been tormented in a dream of not committing the crime of judging an innocent man (Matthew 27:19).

F-He did a symbolic washing of the hands as evidence of the innocence of Jesus (Matthew 27:24).

He saw through the religious leader’s purpose and did not believe that the prisoner had plotted against the government. Therefore, he had no wish to judge Jesus. He knew that the Jews had charged Jesus with evil intentions. And he realized that fairness demanded that Christ should be freed right away.

Why Did Pilate Condemn Jesus?

The governor was a weak leader. He hesitated to free Jesus because he did not want to displease the Jews. The religious leaders agitated the people to create a riot for which he would have to account to his superiors in Rome (Acts 19:40). He feared the hate of the religious leaders and the mob.

The governor began to see that every effort he made to secure the agreement of the people and their leaders to release Jesus caused them only to increase their irrational madness. So, he yielded to their unjust demands. And he “delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away” (John 19:16).

Thus, he revealed his weakness. He had announced that Jesus was innocent, yet he allowed Him to be scourged to please His accusers. He sacrificed justice and morality to accommodate for the demands of the mob. The crowd presumed upon his indecision.

If at the beginning the governor had taken a strong stand, objecting to condemn a man whom he found innocent, he would have been free from the guilt of crucifying the Son of God. Had he done what is just and right regarding Jesus, the Jews would not have manipulated him.

Christ would have been put to death, but the guilt would not have rested upon Pilate. But he had taken step after step in shutting up the voice of the Holy Spirit. His wavering and indecision proved his ruin. No matter how much Pilate had tried to avoid the responsibility for the death of Jesus, his guilt remained.

Pilate’s End

Pilate had already brought upon himself imperial displeasure because of other selfish and cruel treatments of the Jews, and it was for the same cause, partly, that he was overthrown from his position five years later by his Emperor. Soon thereafter, he committed suicide (Josephus Antiquities xviii. 3. 2; 4. 1, 2; etc.).

However, the greatest guilt and responsibility rested on those who served as the religious leaders of Israel who really knew Christ, His works, and teachings. As for Pilate, Herod, and the Roman soldiers, they were comparatively ignorant of Jesus’ works. They merely wanted to please the priests and rulers by sentencing Him to death. They had not the truth that the Jewish leaders had. Had the light been given to the soldiers, they would not have treated Christ as harsh as they did.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team