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Why Pilate Delivered Christ to be Crucified

Aside from Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate may be the most tragic figure in the entire Bible. He was the Governor of Judea during Jesus' earthly ministry and presided over Jesus' trial. The accounts of Jesus' trial in the four Gospels make it clear that Pilate wanted very much to let Jesus go free and that he made several earnest attempts to do so. Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him as he admitted in the verse below:

Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.

Luke 23:4

Not only was Pilate desirous of letting Jesus go, but he was also determined to let him go as stated in the following verse:

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

Acts 3:13

Why then, did Pilate ultimately deliver Christ to be crucified? The answer to this question will be instructive to those who are lost as well as to those who are saved. In the answer is a sober warning that needs to be heeded. The reason that Pilate delivered Christ to be crucified is that he yielded to the pressure of three groups of people. Throughout the centuries, many have succumbed to this same pressure and I know of many who are succumbing to it today. Let's examine these groups:

Group #1 - Religious Authorities

We read in Luke 23:23 that despite Pilate's determination to let Jesus go "the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed". Many times people who might otherwise stand with Jesus will ultimately stand against him because they heed the voices of religious authorities instead of the voice of God. I have close relatives who reject so much of the truth in God's written word because they respect the opinions of their denominational leaders more than they respect what God says.

Group #2 - Secular Authorities

Pilate feared that he might be perceived to be opposing secular authority if he stood with Christ. He feared that he might lose his position or worse. I know of some who claim to be Christians who side with civil and vocational policies when they are opposed to God's word. They fear the earthly consequences more than they fear God's displeasure

And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha.

John 19:12-13

Group #3 - "The People"

And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

Mark 15:15

The remainder of the people who were there that day (and there were many of them) cried for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate was more interested in keeping the people content than in doing what was right. A pastor whom I know very well admitted to me that God's word had exposed a serious sin within the church. He told me that he would not side with God because he had friends and family in the church who would be offended if he did so.

Pilate attempted to deny his personal responsibility in submitting to the pressure of the three groups but this was to no avail:

When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.

Matthew 27:24

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Galatians 6:7

Eusebius (a Roman historian) claimed that Pilate committed suicide several years after the trial.

Are you lost and in your sins? Don't allow the pressure of any of these three groups to keep you from receiving Jesus Christ as your Saviour today. God will give you the strength if you earnestly seek him.

Are you a child of God by the new birth? Have you let the pressure of any of these three groups keep you from standing with the One who died for you? If you are simply stubborn and rebellious then you need to repent and turn back to God. If you earnestly desire to please God but are afraid, God understands this. Ask God to give you courage. He will help you.

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