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John58 – the greatest evil was the highest good

So then Pilate laid hold of -and flogged - Jesus. And the soldiers, having woven a crown from thorns, set down upon his head and put a purple clothvaround him , and were coming towards him and were stating, “Rejoice, king of the Judeans!” and were giving him slaps. (John 19: 1)
In John’s eye-witness biography of Jesus, he has been brought before Pilate, the Roman supremo in Jerusalem AD 30. Pilate has already found him totally innocent. When that is rejected by Jesus’ accusers, Pilate proposes Plan B: the release of Jesus as part of the annual Passover tradition. No. Barabbas the robber, please. Pilate turns to Plan C. It necessitates flogging? Why?

And Pilate came out outside again and states to them, “Look! I bring him outside to you, in order that you may know that I find no one fault in him.” So Jesus came out outside wearing the thorny crown and the purple cloth, and he stated to them, “Look ! The man.” 

Pilate hopes for pity to be shown towards Jesus, the flogged man. The soldiers had portrayed eternal divine truth in thorny crown and scarlet robe. They ordered Jesus to “Rejoice” because he was “King of the Jews”. He did rejoice. By their rejection of him he would achieve their (possible)salvation. 

So when they saw him, the lead priests and the officials shouted, stating, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate states to them, “You yourselves lay hold of him and crucify because I myself do not find fault in him.” 

Pilate’s Plan C didn’t work. Plan D is to let Jesus’ opponents get on with it.

The Judeans answered him, “We ourselves have a law, and with reference to the law he ought to die, in that he made himself a Son of God!” 

The legal logic is that because Jesus “made himself Son of God … he owes to die.”  His adversaries have become Gods in deciding that he is not God.

So when Pilate heard this word he was more fearful, and he came in into the governor's residence again and states to Jesus, “From where are you?” In fact Jesus did not give him an answer. So Pilate states to him, “You do not speak to me. You have not discerned that I have authority to set you free, and I have authority to crucify you.” Jesus answered him, “You were having no one authority with reference to me unless it was having been given to you from above; through this the one having given me over to you has greater sin.” 

It dawns on Pilate that he is being forced, by this religious crowd, to kill an innocent man accused of “making himself Son of God.”  The Pantheon in Rome, well known to Pilate at that time, was dedicated to many gods – all superstitiously feared. Pilate “feared even more”. But Jesus didn’t. The “authority … from above” would prevail, not the might of Rome.

From this Pilate was seeking to set him free; in fact the Judeans shouted, stating, “If you may set this man free, you are not a friend of Caesar. Everyone making himself the king is stating against Caesar.” 

This appeal to Pilate being “a friend of Caesar” will now work its magic. Self-serving friendships seem still to be, at the present time, the prevailing impetus working against people turning to Jesus and for continuing harmful deeds.

So Pilate, having heard these words, brought Jesus outside and sat down upon a step into the place being stated “Stone-Paved” -  in fact Hebrew "High-Place" (Gabbatha). In fact it was a making-ready-day of the Passover; it was around the sixth hour and he states to the Judeans, “Look! The king of you all.” 

“Gabbatha” means “Elevated”. John the biographer uses down-to-earth words (“outside”, “sat down”, “stone pavement”) about this place. But he then signals that “Elevated” (“Gabbatha”) also describes this place of condemnation. How so? The answer may be in the reference to “Passover”. Passover is still celebrated every year so as to recall the night in Egypt when God secured the release of the Israelites from slavery there around BC 1350.  Every first-born in Egypt would be judged and die. Israelites would not avoid that unless, in faith, they sacrificed a lamb (one for each house) and smeared its blood above the doorposts of the house. Faith in the lamb dying as their substitute would save them from down-to-earth judgment. And it was so. That day in AD 30, they were again “making-ready” a re-enactment. Simultaneously that very day Jesus would die – in down-to-earth judgment – but elevated for doing so.

So those shouted, “Take! Take! Crucify him!” Pilate states to them, “I may crucify the king of you all?” The lead priests answered, “We do not have a king if not Caesar.” So then he gave him over to them in order that he may be crucified. 
Sinner Syvret

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