Ver. 24-26. Mark saith, Mar_15:15, So Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him to be crucified.
Luke saith, Luk_23:24,25, And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.
John saith, Joh_19:13, 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. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. Here are three accounts given of Pilate’s coming over to the Jews’ desire to condemn Christ, contrary to the conviction of his own conscience, for he had twice declared that he found no fault in him. Matthew saith, he saw he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made.
Mark saith, he did it to content the people. John saith, it was upon the hearing of that saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. His fear of being accused to the emperor Tiberius, as favouring one who made himself a king, especially if his opposing the Jews in their desire of his death should have caused a tumult, was questionless the great thing that moved him to give judgment in this case contrary to his own conscience; and this is the meaning of his contenting the people, mentioned by Mark. It is plain by the whole story he had no mind to gratify or gain favour with them, but considering how jealous and suspicious a prince Tiberius was, it was Pilate’s interest to quiet them, and to give them no occasion of accusing him unto the emperor.
He took water, and washed his hands before the multitude. It was the law of God in manslaughter, where he that slew the man was not known, the priests and elders of the city that (upon measure) should be found nearest to the dead body, should take a heifer, and bring it to a rough valley, and strike off its head, and wash their hands over the head of the beheaded heifer, and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it, Deu_21:1-7. Some think that Pilate, living amongst the Jews, had learned this rite from them; but others think that it was a rite used in protestations of innocency amongst other people, as well as the Jews. But it was a great fondness in Pilate, to think this excused him, and freed him from the guilt of our Saviour’s death. For there was such an inseparable guilt clave to the act, as nothing could expiate but that blood which he spilt. Those who take upon them the trust of executing laws, had need to take heed what they do, for the law will not excuse them in the court of heaven, unless it be found according to the law of God. What Pilate did he did but ministerially, the law condemned, not he: but if it be understood of the law of God about blasphemy, to which the Jews undoubtedly referred, Joh_10:33,36, it was misapplied. If it were a Roman law, Pilate ought to have considered the equity and justice of it, and whether the fact was proved or not. Pilate had twice owned there was no fault in him. His washing his hands could not purge him of the murder, whereof he was guilty in his condemnation; he did but protest against what he immediately was about to do.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children: his blood, that is, the guilt of his blood, be upon us, &c. A most sad imprecation, the effect of which hath been upon that miserable people now more than sixteen hundred years.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, &c. The scourging was before this, and so recorded by St. John, for we cannot imagine that he was twice scourged.
He delivered him to be crucified; not to the Jews, but to his own officers, for it was a civil crime that he was accused of before Pilate, and crucifying was a Roman punishment.