1 ¶ And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate.
Early in the morning, as Matthew Henry notes, “the Great Sanhedrin” met in a large committee to see how to put Christ to death.
A council almost always goes against the truth of the Lord. The Sanhedrin, even a church council, whether they met in Nicea or Carthage or some other great city of the Roman Empire, met to lead either the Jews or the mainstream Christian church further and further from God’s will. Beware of decisions made about pastors or members of the church body in meetings. Satan is the leader of most councils and meetings. Much evil has been done by them in Christian history.
These rulers are in subjection to the Roman governor. Outside of the Bible, Pontius Pilate is mentioned by Jewish general/turncoat and historian, Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, the Roman historian Tacitus, and something called the Pilate Stone, archeological evidence of Pontius Pilate’s tenure as the Prefect of a Judea under Roman control.
2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it.
A gentile like Pilate is only interested in who is going to be in charge. This was his first concern. Jesus says the equivalent of “you said it”.
3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing.
You want to drive people crazy who are doing you wrong. Don’t say anything. Whenever I’ve had the moral courage to use it, it has done wonders. There is authority in silence. A person’s first impulse when being treated shabbily is to mouth off. Follow Christ’s example. Say little or nothing when you are wronged. Trust in God’s will for your life rather.
4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled.
6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired.
7 And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them.
The world will take a person who is guilty of murder over the sinless Son of God. That’s just the way the world is. Early Christian writers like Origen claimed that Barabbas’ full name was Jesus-bar-abbas which means Jesus, son of the father. Interesting.
Herein lies a very important point. The world honors men who conduct their revolutions with violence and death over Jesus Christ. The world will give praise to a Fidel Castro or a George Washington depending on what side of the political line they are on, just as the Jews demanded Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer, to be released. Even though Castro and Washington were successful on their terms, in fact, violent rebellions and insurrections are a dime a dozen in history and don’t usually change much other than substitute a “new boss” who is the same as “the old boss” if I may steal a thought from the 1960’s pop-music group, The Who.
And truthfully, the way God calls us to live through Jesus cannot be popular in this world ruled by Satan (2Corinthians 4:4). Men want to fight for their “rights” with a gun today as they did with a sword in those days. They have neither trust in God’s will nor respect for what He has called them to do. Even the modern, American Christian would prefer Barabbas over Jesus Christ any day.
Verse 10 tells us of the real motive of the chief priests. Envy.
Proverbs 27:4 Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?
When you envy someone’s success, wealth, education, looks, possessions, or position you should think on what God has to say about envy in His Bible. It is wicked, but like all wicked things, perfectly natural.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him.
14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.
The power of the mob, always a problem when you bring men together, is rearing its ugly head. A mob is a beast with no brain, run on emotions, and controlled by an evil man or men. The chief priests moved this mob to action.