PONTIUS PILATE WASHED HIS HANDS of the entire affair. The trial of Jesus had likely been conceived by all parties involved, both His accusers and authorities, as a kangaroo court. Jesus was a noncitizen of Rome, which entitled him to no rights before the law to speak of. His accusers therefore were emboldened with the hope that their Passover trial, what we might call “the State vs the Son of God,” would prove a swift and standard affair. And yet when it came to convicting Jesus, Pilate found no evil, nor cause of death in him. The apostle John has the prefect of Judea standing alone and face to face with the Son of God in the inner-cave, his praetorium. Here we see a man swimming in the unexpected tide of truth, completely enveloped by the light of this world, while outside stand the Jews willfully clinging to the darkness of their ignorance, refusing to enter.
It is there in the praetorium where light and darkness explained themselves to each other. That Pilate should repeatedly travel back and forth between the two, Jews to Jesus, darkness to light, ignorance to truth, struggling with a leg cramp of indecision among the two clashing kingdom currents, is unexpected protocol for any Roman trial. Truth or beauty—would he, could he forsake the fragrance of power and the momentary wisp of glory in which the secular power of the state, the material world, and the ever-persistent darkness of ignorance offered him, if it meant bowing to the holy and unsettling embrace of God? In his Gospel, Mark employed the Greek word thaumazein to describe Pilate. Essentially, the governor was surprised and awestruck with wonder, plagued with fear and respect. It was as if Pilate had awoken to, and must contend with, the presence of a heavenly angel.
When he sat down upon the judgement seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, “Have nothing to do with that just man, for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.”
“I will therefore chastise him,” he told the crowd, “and let him go.”
But the darkness which put the light of the world on trial spoke with insistent voices. They wanted Him crucified. More precisely, the Gospel of Matthew records, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus (Matthew 27:20).”
In the end Pilate became all men in every age who look upon the sacrificial Lamb of God, deliberated the pros and cons in his mind, and ultimately seared his conscious of Truth. The Gospel of Mark documents the exact time of the Saviors crucifixion—about 9 o’clock—the very hour of the Passover sacrifice. A sin offering dealt with sin in the manner of its death. For this reason the sacrificial animal had to be destroyed in order that the sin which it embodied, the sin of the offeror, might be equally destroyed. In this manner, Christ became nothing. The Gospel of Luke records: “And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will (Matthew 23:24-25).”
Jesus was destroyed.