12.From that time Pilate sought to release him. Though Pilate does not conduct himself conscientiously, and is actuated more by ambition than by a regard to justice, and, on that account, is wretchedly irresolute, yet his modesty is commendable on this ground, that, when he is severely reproved by Christ, he does not fly into a passion, but, on the contrary, is still more disposed to release him. He is a judge, and yet he meekly permits the accused person to be his reprover; and, indeed, scarcely one person in a hundred will be found, who so mildly suffers a reproof, even from one who is his equal.
Thou art not Caesar’ friend. By threats they prevail on Pilate to condemn Christ; for they could do nothing that was more hateful, or more fitted to produce terror, than to hold him suspected of disloyalty to Caesar. “ showest,” say they, “ thou dost not care about Caesar’ authority, if thou acquit him who has endeavored to throw every thing into confusion.” This wickedness at length broke down the resolution of Pilate, who, till now, had only been shaken by their furious clamours. Nor is it without a good reason that the Evangelist so laboriously examines and details those circumstances; for it is of great importance to us to know, that Pilate did not condemn Christ, before he had several times acquitted him with his own mouth, in order that we may learn from it, that it was for our sins that he was condemned, and not on his own account. We may also learn from it, how voluntarily he offered himself to die, when he disdained to avail himself of the favorable disposition of the judge towards him; and, indeed, it was this obedience that caused his death to be a sacrifice of sweet savour, (Eph_5:2,) for blotting out all sins.