“… “The he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime.”… Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring Him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find Him not guilty.”… “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him,” Pilate said. “I find Him not guilty.””
John 18:38b, 19:4, 19:6b
According to John’s account of Jesus’ last days, Pilate, the governor in charge of Jerusalem, found nothing whatsoever wrong with Jesus, that would have made Him worthy of death by crucifixion. The cross was reserved for actual criminals who had wronged Rome. It was reserved for murderers, thieves, and rebels. We see time and time again that Pilate saw Jesus as an innocent man, not worthy of that death penalty. But as the crowds grew louder and persisted even more fervently, Pilate decided that the only way to gain favour with the crowds, almost as if negating any responsibility on his behalf of condemning an innocent man to a criminal’s death, was to follow the custom of releasing a prisoner in place of Jesus.
Do you ever wonder at this point what Jesus must have been thinking? Firstly, to hear the words that He was ‘innocent’ time and time again, knowing that He would still be crucified, then additionally, to hear the angry crowds begging for a murderer and rebel to be released back to them instead of Him; the man that had healed the sick, raised people from the dead, delivered people from oppression, showed compassion and kindness to all He met and so much more. Yet not only did they beg for Barabbas back, but begged Pilate to crucify Jesus. What must have been going through Jesus’ mind at that point. The answer. YOU, us, and all of humanity. Jesus did all this to show His love for us. He gave Himself, a free man, guilty of no crime, for our sins, for our bondage, for our crimes and wrongdoings. That is what Jesus was thinking about! Moreover, the Bible tells us that it was ‘for the joy set before Him that He endured the cross’, the joy of us receiving His love, being forgiven and reunited with the Father.