The Gospel of John – Lesson 48 – John 19:1-16

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers also twisted together a crown of thorns and placed it on his head. Then they threw a purple robe around him. They kept coming to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they kept hitting him in the face. Pilate went outside again and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” So Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” When the chief priests and guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” Pilate told them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. He went back inside the palace again and asked Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate asked him, “Are you not talking to me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over me at all if it had not been given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” 12 From then on Pilate tried to release Jesus. But the Jews shouted, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar! Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar!” 13 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus outside. He sat down on the judge’s seat at a place called the Stone Pavement, or Gabbatha in Aramaic. 14 It was about the sixth hour on the Preparation Day for the Passover. Pilate said to the Jews, “Here is your king!” 15 They shouted, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Should I crucify your king?” “We have no king but Caesar!” the chief priests answered. 16 So then Pilate handed Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away. 

This section of God’s Word primarily focuses on two men. There is the Roman governor Pontius Pilate and Jesus Christ. At first glance, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine both these men would rather have been just about anywhere else other than where they were. Pilate had dealt with plenty of trials where the death penalty was demanded. Pilate was like the Supreme Court for the land of Judea. If he declared someone worthy of death, there wasn’t a higher court in the land to appeal to. Only those who possessed Roman citizenship could appeal their case to Caesar in Rome.

Pilate wasn’t afraid to hand down the death penalty. But he wanted nothing to do with the trial of Jesus of Nazareth. The Jewish leaders wanted him dead. Pilate clearly saw that Jesus didn’t deserve to die. But outside the Judgement Hall was an angry mob demanding that Jesus must be crucified. Pilate didn’t need a riot on his hands. He tried quieting them down by having Jesus flogged and abused by the Roman soldiers. That only made the crowd more angry. He tried to convince them Jesus was innocent. They wouldn’t listen to the evidence.  All the while, Pilate was growing more fearful. He was afraid of the accusations that Jesus called himself the Son of God. He was afraid when he was accused of being “no friend of Caesar.” Jesus called himself a king. The people stated that anyone who called himself a king was an enemy of Caesar. Pilate didn’t want to condemn an innocent man to die. But despite the great authority he had as Roman governor, Pilate seemed almost powerless to do anything other than what the crowd demanded.

Looking at Jesus’ situation, doesn’t it seem like he’d rather be anywhere else other than where he was? Imagine the pain and humiliation he was enduring at the moment. The Son of God took on human flesh in order to be the Savior of the world. But this was how the world responded to their Savior. The beating, the flogging and the mocking were bad enough. Things were only going to get worse when they nailed Jesus to the cross. Jesus looked powerless to stop any of this. But we know appearances are deceiving. The Son of God had the power to drive his accusers, his tormentors, and his judge to their knees in utter pain and terror. He had the authority to walk away from all his trials at any moment, and no one could have stopped him.

Jesus had the power to be anywhere else he wanted to be. But instead he chose to stay right where he was. Jesus wanted nothing more than to carry out God’s holy will. God’s holy will was that sinners like you and I should be saved from our guilt and inherit eternal life in heaven. Jesus couldn’t bring in a substitute to do the work for him. No human being has the power to save themselves from their sins. No human being could carry the burden of their own guilt before God, much less carry the burden of anyone else’s guilt. Only the sinless Son of God can carry our burden for us.

Despite the agony that Jesus endured on the day of his death, there was nowhere else that our Savior wanted to be. The only path to salvation for you and I required Jesus to be declared guilty of our sins and to pay the penalty we deserved. Pilate found a way to get out of the situation he was facing by sending an innocent man to die. As soon as the crowd got what they wanted they left the governor alone and journeyed to Calvary to watch Jesus die. But Jesus didn’t try to get out of the situation he was in. He carried our sins all the way to the cross for us and for our salvation.

Discussion Questions

1 – What did Pilate hope to accomplish by having Jesus tortured and mocked by his soldiers?
He obviously hopped that the people would decide Jesus had suffered enough and they would agree that he should go free. This didn’t work because the Jewish leaders had stirred the crowd up with their false accusations against Jesus. Nothing short of a death sentence would satisfy the crowd.

2 – Why would Pilate become more afraid when they heard people say that Jesus called himself the Son of God?
Romans worshipped many gods and goddesses. Roman mythology contained stories about gods and goddesses having children with human partners. Pilate may have wondered if Jesus were one of those offspring. Pilate sadly believed in false gods rather than understanding that there is only one true God and that Jesus is the true Son of God.

3 – When Jesus refused to answer Pilate’s question, the governor reminded Jesus that he had the authority to put him to death. What did Jesus clarify about Pilate’s authority?
God is the ruler over all things. All authority comes from God. Pilate had no authority over Jesus unless God gave it to him. God was in full control of the situation, not Pilate. Everything that was happening at Jesus’ trial would ultimately serve God’s purpose.

4 – What sinful admissions did the chief priests make in answer to Pilate in verse 16?
They declared that they had no king other than Caesar. They were totally rejecting God’s promise in Psalm 2 that he would install his own Son as King. By rejecting Jesus, the Jews were putting their trust in earthly authorities rather than God. They were turning away from the only means of salvation that God allows.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to