The tale of a weak vacillating criminal and a strong, principled man completely aware of His destiny. Crucifixions were intended for criminals, but here the criminal gets to live in palaces whereas the best man who has ever lived is hauled up on a cross to die. Jesus is in complete control, Pilate is floundering; the reader becomes aware of a hunger in this man, but his arrogance and ignorance prevent him from seizing the moment. What could have been salvation for Pilate, as it was for the thief crucified with Jesus, was lost because he stopped short, he didn't listen to the small echoes of the remaining dregs of his conscience.
Please if you can during these dreadful, heart-wrenching passages, remind yourself of John's emphasis on Christ's humanity as well as divinity. To Pilate-verse five-it is clear that Jesus was a man to be admired and a hero. It is possible that when he begins to say those words, 'Look, here is the man!' he felt contempt, but when he turned to look at this poor, bruised, bleeding, broken human, his thoughts turned to admiration. He saw something uniquely special about Jesus.
Alongside the humanity of Jesus, John shows us the divinity of Jesus. This is a beaten man about to die a horrific death, but still we see Jesus in absolute control, resolute and steadfast. He could still call on a myriad angels to protect Him, but chooses the lonely way of the cross. He knew where His glory lay. Jesus is not the one on trial here: the ones on trial are Pilate, the Jewish religious leaders now with naked hatred, the easily swayed crowd and even the Roman Empire (did they not have a system of robust justice?)
All of a sudden, the decision has been made, Jesus is paraded up the Via Dolorosa and nailed on a cross to die.
The Saviour of the world is crucified. What a condemnation of human beings and yet through that the war is won, all creation can now be transformed and even the most guilty sinner, including the crowd of people baying for His death, the Jewish religious leaders and Pilate, have the opportunity to receive new life.
'Hallelujah! What a Saviour!'