“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said.
“Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Again with Pilate Jesus answered some of his direct questions but did not respond to the accusations brought against Him. He was not going to fight the process ordained by God nor to squabble with the religious leaders.
Pilate was afraid of the anger of the chief priests, officials and the crowd. He was alarmed by reports that Jesus was said to be the King of the Jews and startled by the accusations that He ‘claimed to be the Son of God.’
However when he said that he ‘found no basis for a charge against him’ he was shouted down and even threatened by the crowd.
“Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar” (John 19:12)
In some frustration he confronted Jesus with the above questions, amazed that He did nothing to try and secure His release. Jesus knew that in fact Pilate was not strong enough to exercise this authority in His favour. Nevertheless He responded,
“You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11)
Pilate was like a mouse caught in a glass cage. Twisting and turning he sought a way out as the serpentine coils of the crowd curled tighter and tighter around his space. Eventually he would give up to save himself – just as many still do.
In each of us there may be something of Pilate, something of the crowd, something of the religious leaders – until the love and grace and Spirit of the Lord transforms us. But how would they have felt on that day and afterwards? Is the Poet Stanislaw Jerzy Lee correct when he says,
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible”?
There was certainly an avalanche of inflamed hostility against Jesus that day.