It was the preparation day for the Passover, and it was around nine in the morning by this point. While Pilate was presiding over the court, his wife sent him a message saying “Leave that righteous man alone, because I had a terrible nightmare about him last night!” Pilate knew that the Jewish authorities had brought Jesus to him because they were jealous of how popular he was with the people.
Pilate called together the Jewish authorities and said “You have brought this man to me saying that he leads people astray. But after examining him, I have found that there’s no evidence to charge him with any crime that you have accused him of. Herod hasn’t found anything either, because he returned him back here. Therefore I will have him flogged to discipline him and then release him to you.”
The chief priests and Temple police shouted “No! Crucify him!” Pilate replied “Crucify him yourself, because I find no reason to charge him.”
The Jewish religious leaders responded “He has to die because of our Law, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
Pilate was even more afraid when he heard this. He went back inside his headquarters and asked Jesus “Where are you from?” But Jesus did not answer. Pilate said “You won’t answer? Don’t you know I have the power of life and death over you?”
Jesus answered “You have no authority over me at all except that which is given to you from heaven. This is why the greater guilt is upon the One who handed me over to you.” Pilate was even more desperate to release Jesus after hearing this.
There was a custom for the governor to release a prisoner to the Jews during the Passover festival. The chief priests agitated the crowds to demand for Barabbas to be released instead of Jesus. Barabbas was a notorious criminal who had been thrown into prison for taking part in a rebellion and murder.
Pilate wanted to release Jesus, so he brought him outside for the crowds to see. He sat on the judge’s bench in a place called Gabbatha (The Stone Pavement) and asked the crowds “Of the two of them, who do you want me to release to you, the man called Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
“Barabbas!” they shouted, adding “If you release Jesus, you oppose Caesar! He said he was our king! Only Caesar is our king!”
Pilate then asked “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”
With one voice they answered “Crucify him!”
Pilate asked “Why? What is his crime? Should I crucify your king?”
But the crowds and the chief priests shouted even louder “Caesar is our king! Take this man away! Crucify him!”
Pilate saw that he wasn’t making any progress with the crowds, and in fact a riot had started. He took a bowl of water and washed his hands before them, saying “I am innocent of any guilt concerning this righteous man. This is your concern now!” The mob answered “His blood will be upon us and our children forever!”
Pilate yielded to their voices and released Barabbas to them. After having Jesus flogged, he released him to them, to be crucified as they demanded.
MT 27:15-26, MK 15:6-15, LK 23:13-25, JN 18:38b-40 and 19:6-16