“From then, Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews screamed and said, ‘If you release this one, you are not devoted to Caesar — the one who make himself king works in opposition to Caesar!’”
Were this trial a chess match, here would be the move that would lead Pilate into check-mate. He has finally been maneuvered by the Jews into a corner. If he does not go along with this Jewish mob, they will make it look as if Pilate has rebelled against Caesar himself. The final words of this verse carry with them a double meaning…the Jews are pointing out that Jesus has claimed to be a king and thus is an enemy of Caesar and secondly, they are implying that if Pilate does not put Jesus to death, he is acting as king over them and that makes Pilate an enemy of Caesar. One by one the chess pieces have been put into place and Pilate is realizing that he has lost this bout with the Priest’s manipulation of his authority. Again, Pilate’s authority comes from Caesar…to become an enemy of Caesar means losing that authority.
Yet, as much manipulation is taking place on a human level, we need to be reminded that God is yet sovereign over all these events and he has so ordained that these events come to pass. These Jews are doing exactly what they want to do, as is Pilate, but God is permitting these things to come to pass. The darkness of this week and these events is a reminder of the darkness of our sin and depravity and what Jesus entered into on our behalf. The contrasting light will come with the resurrection, but for now, evil is being allowed to spew hatred at the Lord of Life.
Beloved, may we never be quick to take for granted the gift of grace found in the work of Christ. Worldly kings rise and fall…there would be other Caesars…but this King Jesus reigns supreme eternally. He is the source of all power and authority…though how often we put our hopes and dreams in the power of men.