Jesus is handed over to Pilate because the Jewish leaders don’t have the authority to order his execution. Given their hesitancy around a public showdown with Jesus themselves, it also neatly hands the problem over to the Romans. Note the cowardice of a night trial and then passing the issue so that they don’t get their hands dirty. What it also does is draw all humanity into complicacy. It wasn’t the Jews who killed the Christ contra antisemitic tropes, all peoples are culpable.
A choice is offered. Will the people have Jesus released or Barabbas? Their choice is also once again about the type of king and saviour they want, a zealot engaged in low level armed disruption or the true saviour who brings reconciliation with God? They choose the former. Jesus is crucified as “King of the Jews.” For Pilate this is about Roman victory. Yet it is as king that Jesus brings salvation and victory. He is placed with sinners, with rebels. He is mocked by Jews and Gentiles alike. But he is also recognised by a Roman Gentile as “The Son of God.”
He is watched by the women, and Joseph a member of the Sanhedrin steps forward bravely to request the body for burial. The tomb is secured and guarding making grave robbery impossible.
Big Theme: Jesus died for us and because of us
Questions to consider
- What is it that causes the Roman officer to recognise Jesus as Son of God?
- What are the implications of saying that all humanity is culpable in his death?