Daily Word

Playing the Caesar card | John 19:12-16

12 Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”

13 When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement (in Hebrew, Gabbatha). 14 It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!”

15 “Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!” “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back. 16 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away.

John 19:12-16 (NLT)

Pilate’s predicament

Pilate knows Jesus is not guilty and not worthy of death under Roman law but he wants to appease the Jews and punish Him. As he learns more about Jesus, he realizes he’s in trouble since Jesus claims to be the Son of God and a King. He tried to get out of it with a prisoner swap in John 18:39-40 but the Jews rejected it.

The other gospel accounts provide even greater detail – like in Matthew 27:19 where his wife reports to him that she had a dream to leave this innocent man alone.

The Caesar card

So Pilate continues to try to convince the Jews to release Jesus. A ruler with character and resolve would have assessed the situation, made the decision to release Jesus and told the Jewish rulers to take a hike. 

The Jewish rulers decided to put an end to the struggle by playing the Caesar card. They claimed Caesar as their king. If Pilate released Jesus, he would be disrespecting Caesar – implying he himself could be judged and sentenced to death. “The religious leaders and the crowd knew Pilate’s weak point and they pressed upon it.” (enduringword.com)

Hypocrisy continues

But these Jewish leaders are so full of hypocrisy. They claimed Caesar as king. If indeed Jesus was the Messiah they had wanted, one that sought to overturn Roman rule, they would have been singing the opposite tune. But because Jesus was meek and humble and challenged their authority, they sought to get rid of Him.

Relenting

Finally Pilate gives up and gives Jesus over to be crucified. Jesus now starts down the road to cavalry.

RЯeflection

  • If you were Pilate, what would you have done? 
Playing the Ace of spades card. Image from Pxfuel.com

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