Following His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus endured two mock trials at the hands of the ruling Jewish leaders. Ultimately, these trials were just a charade. We know from earlier chapters that it was the goal of the Jewish leaders to kill Jesus whenever they got the chance, and now, they had the chance. The trials that they were holding were not so that they could seek justice. Rather, these trials were simply their way to attempt to vindicate their murder of an innocent man, Jesus.
Eventually, they decided that they needed to report to the local Roman governor, Pilate, and ask for Him to execute Jesus. They had determined that Jesus should die, but Roman law strictly prohibited them from carrying out a death sentence. Now, they were forced to come to the Roman authorities and ask them to do the dirty work of killing Jesus.
At this point, John reveals the lack of integrity that these religious hypocrites had. Since they were headed into the Jewish feast of Passover, they did not want to defile themselves by going into a Gentile building. Ceremoniously, they would be considered unclean according to their own rules, meaning they could not partake of the Passover. This was the most hypocritical thing that could have transpired on this day. At the same time as they lied and sought to murder Jesus, they somehow rationalized the idea that walking into a Gentile building might somehow defile them.
They truly were flagrant hypocrites. Earlier, Jesus had accused them of being whited-sepulchers, with a well manicured exterior, but a rotten pile of bones and flesh on the inside. Their attempt to obey the ceremonial law was of no purpose up against the deceit and murder that was in their hearts. They thought walking into a building would defile them, but they were already filthy with wickedness.
As Jesus came before Pilate, for the first time true justice was extended. Pilate asked the Jewish leaders, “What accusation bring ye against this man?” Pilate would not execute an innocent man, he needed evidence, he needed to weigh the details and determine guilt or innocence. The answer of the Jews revealed that they did not intend to carry out justice. Instead, they just wanted Pilate to kill Jesus. Here, we see a great departure from the desires of God. Blinded by wickedness and hatred, the Jewish leaders who were supposed to be God’s people obeying God’s desires, instead became worse than their pagan Gentile counterparts. In this scenario, the pagan Roman governor acted with more justice and rightness than any of the hypocritical Jewish leaders.
Ultimately, Pilate cross-examined the testimony of Jesus. After his conversation with Jesus, Pilate carried his verdict to the Jewish leaders who were waiting outside, “I find no fault in him.” Having exhausted his legal training, Pilate determined that Jesus was not a guilty man, and that He was certainly not worthy of execution. Execution was something that was reserved for the vile and the wicked. It was something that was reserved for murderers and liars. It was something that was for those who acted like the Pharisees, not the innocent guiltless Jesus. Jesus was sinless. The religious leaders knew it, and Pilate confirmed it. If He were to die, it would be as a sinless Savior.
Food For Thought: What did the Jewish leaders do that was hypocritical in regards to their meeting with Pilate?