Given that the religious leaders of the day found Jesus guilty of blasphemy, this was nothing to Pilate. So, we must ask: for what charge was Jesus crucified? What did the Jewish authorities say to the Roman governor? First of all, they were vague. They wanted Pilate to kill Jesus just because they found him guilty in the Sanhedrin. They desired the Roman governor to rubber stamp their decision (John 18:29-30), but this didn’t work. Pilate told them to punish him themselves, but they wanted the death penalty, which only Pilate had authority to administer (John 18:31-32). But, before Pilate could leave they began shouting accusations of insurrection. Notice:
And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King.(Luke 23:2 KJV; emphasis mine)
In light of this charge, Pilate took Jesus into the judgment hall, but nearly everything else was done outside the judgment hall before them,Jesus’ accusers (John 18:28-29; cf. Luke 23:13-14). The accusation was: Jesus claimed to be Messiah the King. This was true according to the trial they had just held in the Sanhedrin, but claiming to be Messiah was not a crime according to Jewish law. Nevertheless, it would be a crime against Rome, if Jesus was trying to remove the Jewish lands away from Caesar’s control. Pilate examined him and brought Jesus out again to the Jewish authorities, saying the charge they brought against Jesus was not against Roman law—in other words Pilate found no guilt in Jesus (John 18:33-38). Why so? Because, Jesus told him his (Jesus’) kingdom was not of Caesar’s world, and his followers would not fight even to have Jesus released (John 18:36).
At this time the Jews made a number of additional insurrection accusations to which Jesus made no answer, over which Pilate could only marvel (Matthew 27:12-15). However, during the discourse, the Jews mentioned Jesus was from Galilee. With this new development, Pilate thought he saw a way out of this exasperating situation, so he sent Jesus to Herod (Luke 23:4-12). After questioning and mocking Jesus, Herod sent him back to Pilate. The governor assembled the Jewish authorities and announced neither he nor Herod found any guilt in Jesus for the insurrection charges brought against him (Luke 23:13-23). He would therefore release Jesus, according to the custom of the feast, after he chastised him.
The chief priests convinced the people who had gathered for the release to ask for Barabbas instead of Jesus (Matthew 27:19-21; John 18:39-40). Three times Pilate tried to get them to change their minds, but they wouldn’t budge (Luke 23:20-23). Pilate therefore released Barabbas to avoid a riot, which he saw developing, and scourged Jesus. Afterward, he brought Jesus out again (John 19:1-6), intending to release him anyway. The Jewish authorities kept calling out for Jesus to be crucified, but Pilate told them to take him themselves and crucify him (and bear the consequences of such and action); for he was about to release him. Had he really meant those words, the Jews would have taken Jesus then and there and killed him themselves. Instead, they re-defined their original accusation.
The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. (John 19:7 KJV; emphasis mine)
In other words, the Jewish authorities said Jesus blasphemed the Name of God. This accusation, remember is the same for which they – the Sanhedrin – had condemned Jesus (John 19:7). This was not something for which the Romans would have been concerned. Up to this point, Pilate had found the Messianic charges were moot, because Jesus claimed his Kingdom was not of Caesar’s world (John 18:36). Not even his own servants would fight to save him. Furthermore, both he and Herod had found Jesus innocent of the other false insurrection charges (Luke 23:13-15. Upon hearing the charge that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, Pilate went into the judgment hall for the final time to interrogate Jesus. Pilate asked him what was meant by this –that Jesus claimed he was the Son of God? Jesus refused to reply to the charge but did reply to the governor’s protest saying Pilate would have had no power over him (Jesus), if it were not for the fact Pilate’s authority was given to him from above. The one who delivered Jesus to the governor had the greater sin (John 19:8-11). Remember: the accusation at this point was Jesus claimed to be the Son of God . This was blasphemy according to the Sanhedrin (see, “Jesus Before the Sanhedrin“), and the law of blasphemy required the death penalty for those found guilty.
Pilate still wished to release Jesus (John 19:12), but the Jewish authorities claimed, if he did so, he could not be Caesar’s friend. According to the trial held before the Sanhedrin, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah and therefore King, but Jesus also admitted to being the Son of God. Thus, as the Son of God, he was the Messiah, the KING OF THE JEWS:
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying, Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe: And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God. Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth. (Luke 22:66-71 KJV; emphasis mine)
The final accusation for which Pilate questioned Jesus was that of being the Son of God (John 19:7). He never questioned Jesus again But Pilate, after seeking to release Jesus once more (John 19:14-15) to no avail, finally consented to let Jesus be crucified (John 19:16), which was done according to the will of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish authority (Luke 23:25). The Sanhedrin’s charge of blasphemy– that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God – was the last formal charge submitted against Jesus before Pilate (John 19:7).
Furthermore, Pilate had a placard made up stating the reason for the execution: Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews. Then upon the moment of his death and seeing the terrible things that occurred accompanying Jesus’ death, the centurion bore testimony that truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54; Mark 15:39); thus answering to the charge of Jesus being the Son of God – the King of the Jews!
Jesus was accused of three different crimes:
- …of being the Messiah (Luke 23:2; John 18:33) – Jesus admitted to being the Christ, but Pilate didn’t consider Jesus a threat to Rome (John 18:38).
- …of insurrection (Luke 23:4-5 – Jesus said nothing, and both Pilate and Herod found him innocent of these charges (Luke 23:13-15).
- …of being the Son of God – (John 19:7) – Jesus’ only reply to Pilate was that the governor would have no power over him (Jesus) if it was not given from above. This was an admission to the charge of being the Son of God. Pilate did not consider this a threat to Rome, but the Jewish authorities claimed it did, saying their only king was Caesar.
Accusing Jesus of saying he was the Son of God was the final charge brought against him by the Jewish authorities before Pilate. Pilate gave in to their demands, washing his hands of personal involvement in the decision (Matthew 27:24) and said it should be done according to their desire (Luke 23:24-25).
Jesus was crucified admitting he was the Messiah, the Son of God. Pilate made a placard saying Jesus was the King of the Jews (Messiah) and the centurion admitted as Jesus died that he was the Son of God, answering to both charges that Jesus admitted to. The same charges the Sanhedrin found Jesus guilty and they called it BLASPHEMY!