“Thus Pilate went out to them and said, ‘What charge do you bring against this man?”
Interestingly, John is the only one of the four Gospel writers that records this question from Pilate. The other evangelists simply record the Jews coming to Pilate and accusing Jesus, but John inserts the proper protocol in this context — that of waiting for the Roman official to address them before they start spewing forth hatred and lies. There is no question that there is a bit of a political dance that takes place with this trial, with the Jews seeking to manipulate Pilate into serving their ends (and thus in their minds, taking the blood of Jesus off of their own hands).
Certainly news of some sort has preceded the Jewish officials to Pilate and his aides have given him some degree of counsel as to the nature of this mob as they bring Jesus to him. The relationship between the Jews and Rome had always been a trying one and there is no question that Pilate had in the back of his mind ways in which he could maneuver this in his favor — or at least in a way that would maintain the status quo. Either way, politics as usual is about to begin.
The sad thing about political maneuvering is that we find it taking place in the church, not just in the broader culture. People forget that the church does not belong to them, but that instead it belongs to Christ Jesus. How folks fall into the trap of using church to meet their personal needs, to achieve their personal ends, or otherwise to build a reputation for themselves rather than to build a reputation for Christ. How often even pastors fall into the trap of tip-toeing over Truth because they fear it will offend or chase away members or visitors to the congregation. All of these things are no better than what we see Pilate and the Jewish officials engaged in — protocol, perhaps is being met, but personal agendas are being sought. May our lives and our churches seek Christ’s will in life, not our own.