Jn 18:28-40 At around 7.30am, Jesus is taken back to Pilate’s residence at Herod’s Palace (see 6 on Map 13). The chief priests refuse to enter the palace – the home of a Gentile – as they will become ritually ‘unclean’ and unable to celebrate the Passover festival.
Pilate is perplexed by the truth when Jesus says, “My kingdom does not belong to this world” (John 18:36). He can find no basis for the anti-Roman charge brought against Jesus, so he offers to release him.
The Jews, however, are furious that Pilate calls Jesus, ‘the King of the Jews’ and demand the release of Barabbas, a nationalist rebel – a not-so-subtle threat that they, too, are prepared to rise up against the authority of Rome. (See the feature on Jewish Nationalists in Section 21).
Jn 19:1-16 Pilate has Jesus flogged and continues to argue with the Jews. He has already angered the Jews on several previous occasions.
He’d used the Temple Tax to build a new aqueduct to bring water to Jerusalem, and when Jewish objectors had shouted him down, he’d ordered his soldiers to club them to death (see Luke 13:1).
Pilate had also offended the Jews by setting up Roman standards (‘signa’ – staffs adorned with symbols) in Jerusalem, some bearing an image of Tiberius Caesar who was worshipped as a god. Forced to back down on that occasion, Pilate is now in danger of provoking a Jewish rebellion and a complaint about him to Caesar.
He eventually gives way when the Jews threaten his authority by chanting “you are no friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). Pilate washes his hands of the whole affair, and condemns Jesus to death from his judgement seat at Gabbatha, the raised platform above the Stone Pavement outside Herod’s Palace.
The Stone Pavement (John 19:13)