11.Thou wouldest have no power. Some explain this in a general sense, that nothing is done in the world but by the permission of God; as if Christ had said, that Pilate, though he thinks that he can do all things, will do nothing more than God permits. The statement is, no doubt, true, that this world is regulated by the disposal of God, and that, whatever may be the efforts of wicked men, still they cannot even move a finger but as the secret power of God directs. But I prefer the opinion of those who confine this passage to the office of the magistrate; for by these words Christ rebukes the foolish boasting of Pilate, in extolling himself, as if his power had not been from God; as if he had said, Thou claimest every thing for thyself’ as if thou hadst not to render an account one day to God; but it was not without His providence that thou wast made a judge. Consider, then, that His heavenly throne is far higher than thy tribunal. It is impossible to find any admonition better fitted to repress the insolence of those who rule over others, that they may not abuse their authority. The father imagines that he may do what he pleases towards his children, the husband towards his wife, the master towards his servants, the prince towards his people, unless when they look to God, who hath determined that their authority shall be limited by a fixed rule.
Therefore he who delivered me to thee. Some think that this declares the Jews to be more guilty than Pilate, because, with wicked hatred and malicious treachery, they are enraged against an innocent man, that is, those of them who were private individuals, and not clothed with lawful authority. But I think that this circumstance renders their guilt more heinous and less excusable on another ground, that they constrain a divinely appointed government to comply with their lawless desires; for it is a monstrous sacrilege to pervert a holy ordinance of God for promoting any wickedness. The robber, who, with his own hand, cuts the throat of a wretched passenger, is justly held in abhorrence; but he who, under the forms of a judicial trial, puts to death an innocent man, is much more wicked. Yet Christ does not aggravate their guilt, for the purpose of extenuating that of Pilate; for he does not institute a comparison between him and them, but rather includes them all in the same condemnation, because they equally pollute a holy power. There is only this difference, that he makes direct attack on the Jews, but indirectly censures Pilate, who complies with their wicked desire.