The Plan Of Pilate Fails!
Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “CrucifyHim, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our[a] law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
John 19:5-7 (NKJV)
For the third time, Pilate went out to face the people (John 18:29, 38; 19:4), this time bringing Jesus with him. Surely the sight of this scourged and humiliated prisoner would arouse some pity in their hearts; but it did not.For the second time, Pilate declared that he found no fault in Jesus, but his words only aroused their hateful passions more. “Behold the man!” carries the idea, “Look at this poor fellow!
Hasn’t He suffered enough?
Take pity on Him and let me release Him.” It was a noble effort on Pilate’s part, but it failed.
The failure of Pilate’s plan teaches us an important lesson: it takes more than human sentiment to bring the lost sinner to salvation. There is a view of the Atonement called “the moral influence theory” that would fit right into the governor’s approach. It states that the realization of our Lord’s sufferings moves the heart of the sinner so that he turns from sin and begins to love God. It is purely subjective and has no bearing on the holiness of God or the importance of satisfying divine justice.
If any crowd should have been moved by pity, it was the Jewish crowd that waited on Pilate.
What nation has suffered more than the Jews?
Here was one of their own, a Jewish prophet, suffering unjustly at the hands of the Romans, and the Jews did not repent or even show any touch of pity!
If sinners who actually saw Christ in His suffering did not repent, what hope is there for people twenty centuries later who only read about His agonies?
The cross involves much more than an exhibition of innocent suffering. On that cross, the Son of God paid the price for the sins of the world and thereby declared the love of God and defended the holiness and justice of God. We are not saved by feeling pity for Jesus. We are saved by repenting of our sins and trusting Jesus, the sinless Substitute. “If Christ was not actually doing something by His death,” wrote Dr. Leon Morris, “then we are confronted with a piece of showmanship, nothing more.”
This does not mean that it is wrong for the believer to contemplate the cross and meditate on Christ’s sufferings. The familiar hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” helps us realize afresh the price that Jesus paid for us, but we must not confuse sentimentality with true spiritual emotion. It is one thing to shed tears during a church service and quite something else to sacrifice, suffer, and serve after the meeting has ended. We do not simply contemplate the cross; we carry it.
For the third time, Pilate announced, “I find no fault in Him!” The crowd might well have shouted, “Then why did you have Him scourged?” Pilate’s actions belied his words. He was a weak-willed man who, like many politicians, hoped to find a happy compromise that would please everybody. The Chinese teacher Confucius defined “cowardice” as “to know what is right and not do it.”
The religious leaders were not at a loss for a powerful reply: “We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God” (John 19:7). This statement is not found in the other Gospels (but see Matt. 26:63-64); however, it fits right into John’s purpose in writing his Gospel (John 20:31).