Matthew, Chapter 27

- י ל ה -

Pontius Pilate Sentences Jesus to Death

“11 And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest. 12 And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. 13 Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? 14 And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. 15 Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would. 16 And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ? 18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. 19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him. 20 But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23 And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. 24 When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. 25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Matthew 27:11-25)

Jesus stands trial before Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea. Pilate questions Jesus regarding the priests’ claims. Jesus responds: “You have said so” (Luke 23:3). In other words, he fails to deny the accusations laid out against him. This is enough justification for Pilate to indict him. Every festival, the governor releases one prisoner at the discretion of the people. Blinded by their envy of Jesus, the crowd demands that Barabbas be acquitted instead. They are determined to have Jesus crucified. The zeal of the people overpowers Pilate, who does their bidding and exonerates himself from all guilt. His many attempts to help Jesus fail: the people demand a severe sentence. They withhold all forms of compassion from Jesus, even though true faith requires us to moderate the rigor of our judgment. The Pharisees’ human weaknesses meets sublime faith;  negativity meets divine light. 

Compassion is striving to love and relieve the pain of others, just as we would wish to relieve our own pains.