Hath the greater sin - It is a sin in thee to condemn me, while thou art convinced in thy conscience that I am innocent: but the Jews who delivered me to thee, and Judas who delivered me to the Jews, have the greater crime to answer for. Thy ignorance in some measure excuses thee; but the rage and malice of the Jews put them at present out of the reach of mercy.
No power - No such power as you claim. You have not originated the power which you have. You have just as much as is given, and your ability extends no further.
Except it were given thee - It has been conceded or granted to you. God has ordered your life, your circumstances, and the extent of your dominion. This was a reproof of a proud man in office, who was forgetful of the great Source of his authority, and who supposed that by his own talents or fortune he had risen to his present place. Alas, how many men in office forget that God gives them their rank, and vainly think that it is owing to their own talents or merits that they have risen to such an elevation. Men of office and talent, as well as others, should remember that God gives them what they have, and that they have no influence except as it is conceded to them from on high.
From above - From God, or by his direction, and by the arrangements of his providence. Romans 13:1; “there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God.” The words “from above” often refer to God or to heaven, James 1:17; James 3:15, James 3:17; John 3:3 (in the Greek). The providence of God was remarkable in so ordering affairs that a man, flexible and yielding like Pilate, should be entrusted with power in Judea. Had it been a man firm and unyielding in his duty one who could not be terrified or awed by the multitude Jesus would not have been delivered to be crucified, Acts 2:23. God thus brings about his wise ends; and while Pilate was free, and acted out his nature without compulsion, yet the purposes of God, long before predicted, were fulfilled, and Jesus made an atonement for the sins of the world. Thus God overrules the wickedness and folly of men. He so orders affairs that the true character of men shall be brought out, and makes use of that character to advance his own great purposes.
Therefore - On this account. “You are a magistrate. Your power, as such, is given you by God. You are not, indeed, guilty for accusing me, or malignantly arraigning me; but you have power intrusted to you over my life; and the Jews, who knew this, and who knew that the power of a magistrate was given to him by God, have the greater sin for seeking my condemnation before a tribunal appointed by God, and for endeavoring to obtain so solemn a sanction to their own malignant and wicked purposes. They have endeavored to avail themselves of the civil power, the sacred appointment of God, and on this account their sin is greater.” This does not mean that their sin was greater than that of Pilate, though that was true; but their sin was greater on account of the fact that they perseveringly and malignantly endeavored to obtain the sanction of the magistrate to their wicked proceedings. Nor does it mean, because God had purposed his death Acts 2:23, and given power to Pilate, that therefore their sin was greater, for God‘s purpose in the case made it neither more nor less. It did not change the nature of their free acts. This passage teaches no such doctrine, but that their sin was aggravated by malignantly endeavoring to obtain the sanction of a magistrate who was invested with authority by God, and who wielded the power that God gave him. By this Pilate ought to have been convinced, and was convinced, of their wickedness, and hence he sought more and more to release him.
He that delivered me - The singular here is put for the plural, including Judas, the high priests, and the Sanhedrin.
You must have living faith in your hearts; the truth must be preached with power from above. You can reach the people only when Jesus works through your efforts. The Fountain is open; we may be refreshed, and in our turn refresh others. If your own souls were vitalized by the solemn, pointed truths you preach, cold-heartedness, listlessness, and indolence would disappear, and others would feel the influence of your zeal and earnestness. 3SM 150.3Read in context »
Pilate's face grew pale. He was confused by his own conflicting emotions. But while he had been delaying to act, the priests and rulers were still further inflaming the minds of the people. Pilate was forced to action. He now bethought himself of a custom which might serve to secure Christ's release. It was customary at this feast to release some one prisoner whom the people might choose. This custom was of pagan invention; there was not a shadow of justice in it, but it was greatly prized by the Jews. The Roman authorities at this time held a prisoner named Barabbas, who was under sentence of death. This man had claimed to be the Messiah. He claimed authority to establish a different order of things, to set the world right. Under satanic delusion he claimed that whatever he could obtain by theft and robbery was his own. He had done wonderful things through satanic agencies, he had gained a following among the people, and had excited sedition against the Roman government. Under cover of religious enthusiasm he was a hardened and desperate villain, bent on rebellion and cruelty. By giving the people a choice between this man and the innocent Saviour, Pilate thought to arouse them to a sense of justice. He hoped to gain their sympathy for Jesus in opposition to the priests and rulers. So, turning to the crowd, he said with great earnestness, “Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?” DA 733.1
Like the bellowing of wild beasts came the answer of the mob, “Release unto us Barabbas!” Louder and louder swelled the cry, Barabbas! Barabbas! Thinking that the people had not understood his question, Pilate asked, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” But they cried out again, “Away with this Man, and release unto us Barabbas”! “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” Pilate asked. Again the surging multitude roared like demons. Demons themselves, in human form, were in the crowd, and what could be expected but the answer, “Let Him be crucified”? DA 733.2
Pilate was troubled. He had not thought it would come to that. He shrank from delivering an innocent man to the most ignominious and cruel death that could be inflicted. After the roar of voices had ceased, he turned to the people, saying, “Why, what evil hath He done?” But the case had gone too far for argument. It was not evidence of Christ's innocence that they wanted, but His condemnation. DA 733.3Read in context »
The angels as they left heaven, in sadness laid off their glittering crowns. They could not wear them while their Commander was suffering and was to wear a crown of thorns. Satan and his angels were busy in the judgment hall to destroy human feeling and sympathy. The very atmosphere was heavy and polluted by their influence. The chief priests and elders were inspired by them to insult and abuse Jesus in a manner the most difficult for human nature to bear. Satan hoped that such mockery and violence would call forth from the Son of God some complaint or murmur; or that He would manifest His divine power, and wrench Himself from the grasp of the multitude, and that thus the plan of salvation might at last fail. EW 169.1
Peter followed his Lord after His betrayal. He was anxious to see what would be done with Jesus. But when he was accused of being one of His disciples, fear for his own safety led him to declare that he knew not the man. The disciples were noted for the purity of their language, and Peter, to convince his accusers that he was not one of Christ's disciples, denied the charge the third time with cursing and swearing. Jesus, who was at some distance from Peter, turned a sorrowful reproving gaze upon him. Then the disciple remembered the words which Jesus had spoken to him in the upper chamber, and also his own zealous assertion, “Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended.” He had denied his Lord, even with cursing and swearing; but that look of Jesus’ melted Peter's heart and saved him. He wept bitterly and repented of his great sin, and was converted, and then was prepared to strengthen his brethren. EW 169.2Read in context »
21, 22, 29 (Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 6:16; 14:10). Two Kinds of Crowns—On whose side are we? The world cast Christ out, the heavens received Him. Man, finite man, rejected the Prince of life; God, our sovereign Ruler, received Him into the heavens. God has exalted Him. Man crowned Him with a crown of thorns, God has crowned Him with a crown of royal majesty. We must all think candidly. Will you have this man Christ Jesus to rule over you, or will you have Barabbas? The death of Christ brings to the rejecter of His mercy the wrath and judgments of God, unmixed with mercy. This is the wrath of the Lamb. But the death of Christ is hope and eternal life to all who receive Him and believe in Him (Letter 31, 1898). 5BC 1107.2
Under Satan's Black Banner—Each son and daughter of Adam chooses either Christ or Barabbas as his general. And all who place themselves on the side of the disloyal are standing under Satan's black banner, and are charged with rejecting and despitefully using Christ. They are charged with deliberately crucifying the Lord of life and glory (The Review and Herald, January 30, 1900). 5BC 1107.3Read in context »