1-5 Compare Mt.27:1-14; Mk.15:2-5: Jn.18:28-38.
1 The trial now takes on a new character. It passes from the religious to the political phase. It would be quite useless to bring the Sanhedrin's findings before Pilate, because he was not to be drawn into their religious quarrels, so long as these did not affect the state. So they modify the indictment accordingly.
2 Compare Mt.22:17-21; Ac.17:7.
3 To us the Lord's reply to Pilate seems to be an admission of the charge that He was a king, and consequently, a rival of Caesar. But the turn of thought lies in the emphasis. In John's account there is a fuller discussion, in which the Lord makes it plain to Pilate that, at that time, He was not pressing this claim. "You are [not I am] saying it," indicates that the accusation springs from the desire of His enemies to have it so, rather than any evidence they can furnish. So Pilate understood it, and bluntly told the Jews that, if anyone was at fault, they were, and not their Prisoner .
4 Compare Ac.3:14-15.
6 They hoped, by the mention of Galilee, to rouse the procurator's animosity, for it was well known that he and Herod, the tetrarch of Galilee, were enemies. But Pilate knew that Herod was well acquainted with the religious quarrels of the Jews and might possibly be able to find the real cause of their animosity. Hence he sends Him to the Idumean.
7 Compare 3:1-2.
8 Compare 9:9.
8 Herod, having beheaded John the baptist, became greatly interested in this new Prophet Who more than took John's place. He never had met Him. As the Lord was not of Galilee, but of Bethlehem, Judea, Herod had no jurisdiction over His case. His father, Herod the Great, had indeed held sway in Judea, and used his power to massacre the babes of Bethlehem, in order to make sure of His destruction. They were a bloody race, and with divine dignity Christ scorns to speak to the haughty Herod. Yet even he could find no ground for the accusations of His enemies.
11 Compare Isa.53:3.
12 Compare Ac. 4:25-28.
18-17 Compare Mt.27:15-19; Mk.15:6-10 Jn.18:38-39, 19:4; Ac.13:28.
14 Every civil charge against the Lord was found to be false. His long sojourn in Galilee and the miracles He had performed were reported to Herod, but he had not been informed of a single disturbance, though the Roman government was constantly on the alert to crush any insurrection in its beginning. Bar-Abbas had headed one that very year. The religious rulers were none too loyal to Rome, and any charge coming from them, unless well authenticated, was to be viewed with suspicion.
The utter hypocrisy of the whole proceeding comes to a climax in their request for the release of Bar-Abbas. He was actually guilty of the charge brought against the Lord, with the added distinction of having committed murder (while the Lord had roused the dead), yet they wanted him released! But the Lord, Who was not guilty, must be crucified! We cannot help seeing in these two an illustration of the wonderful salvation which springs from the murder of the Just One. He suffered, the Just One for the unjust, that He might bring them to God. If Christ had been released Bar-Abbas would have been executed, as he deserved. He is a type of the mass of unbelievers, who are saved without faith, at the consummation.
18-23 Compare Mt.27:20-23; Mk.15:1l-14; Jn.18:40..
22 The act of Pilate in crucifying Christ is as nothing compared with the guilt of the religious leaders of the Jews. They had the oracles of God which foretold the coming of the Blessed One. Pilate may never have even heard of the Messiah. They had the light of a holy and just law. Yet the Roman governor, with little more than an instinctive sense of justice (for no statute was involved) was far more righteous. Three times he bears record that he cannot find a single fault worthy of death. His real weakness lay in the form of government. Pilate's office, to some extent, depended on his pandering to the populace. They were always ready to accuse their governors of disloyalty to Caesar if they displeased them.
24-25 Compare Mt.27:24-26; Mk.15:15; Jn.19:16.
26 Simon is the type of those who follow Him, bearing His cross.