The tragedy of Calvary: or the minute details of Christ's life from Palm Sunday morning till the resurrection and ascension taken prophecy, history, revelations and ancient writings by Meagher, Jas. L. (James Luke), 1848-1920
Pilate was sitting on an easy-seat, with a little table before him, surrounded by palace officials of the Roman legion guarding the Antonia, the Temple and the sacred city. The whole Jewish population, headed by their leaders, now shouted for the Prisoner's death.
Pilate was very much troubled. He did not want to put this innocent man to death. He was struck with the lofty dignity, and the impressive bearing of the poor Prisoner, who kept silence and preserved a wonderful presence of mind under such accusations, and he wanted to deliver him. He remembered that in memory of their delivery from the Egyptian slavery, the Jews had been accustomed from time immemorial to set free during the Passover a prisoner condemned to death. The Romans had respected this custom.
Lying in prison at the time was one called by some of the ancient Greek MSS. of the Gospels, Jesus Bar-Abbas —his last name meaning " Son of the Father." He had led an insurrection and committed murder. (Mark xv, 7, Luke xxiii. 19.) He was awaiting execution as the Gospel says:
"Now upon the solemn day, the governor was accustomed to release to the people one prisoner whom they would. And he had a notorious prisoner that was called Barabbas. They therefore being gathered together Pilate said:
"Whom will you that I release to you, Barabbas or Jesus, who is called the Christ ?"
"For he knew that through envy they had delivered him up."
Pilate again having called all the multitude of the Jews together he said:
"You know that at the feast of unleavened bread it is customary to release a prisoner to you. I have one condemned. Jesus Barabbas and this one standing in your presence, Jesus, who is called the Christ, in whom I find no fault, which of them do you wish me release to you ? " And they all cry out,' Barabbas.' Pilate says. ' What then shall we do to Jesus, who is called Christ ?' The Jews say, 'Let him be crucified.' And others say, 'Thou art no friend of Caesar if thou release this man, because he called himself the Son of God and king. You wish then this man to be king and not Caesar.' (Matt, xxvii. 15-26. etc.)
"And Pilate in a rage says to the Jews : 'Your nation has always been rebellious, and you always speak against your benefactors.' They say, 'What benefactors?' He says to them : 'Your God led you out of the land of Egypt, from bitter slavery, and brought you safe through the sea as through dry land, and fed you in the desert with manna, and gave quails, and quenched your thirst with water from a rock, and gave you a law, and in all these things you provoked your God to anger, and made a molten calf. And you exasperated your God, and he sought to slay you. And Moses prayed for you and you were not put to death. And now you charge me with hating the emperor.' (Other MSS. have " with wishing another king," with seeking Jesus for king.")
"And rising up from the tribunal, he sought to go out. And the Jews cry out and say : 'We know that Caesar is king, and not Jesus. For truly the Magi brought gifts to him as to a king. And when Herod heard from the Magi that a king had been born, he sought to kill him. And his father Joseph knowing this took him, and his mother, and they fled to Egypt. And Herod hearing this destroyed the children of the Hebrews that had been born in Bethlehem.'
"Pilate said to them: 'What shall I do then with Jesus who is called Christ ?' They all say : 'Let him be crucified.' The governor said to them.' ' Why, what evil hath he done ?' But they cried out the more, saying : 'Let him be crucified.'
"And Pilate seeing that he prevailed nothing, but rather a tumult was made, having taken water washed his hands before the people saying : 'I am innocent of the blood of this just man, look you to it.' And all the people answering said : ' His blood be on us and upon our children.'" (Luke xxiii. 13-22.)
Since the days of Moses washing the hands was a type of innocence. When the body of a person, murdered was found, all the elders of the city washed their hands over the body of the red heifer typifying the Redeemer who was to come, and^they thus declared that they were all innocent of the crime of murder. The washing of the hands was also a custom among the Greeks and Romans, and the judge, who pronounced the sentence of death on a criminal, washed his hands in court to tell that he was not guilty of the criminal's death. This was why Pilate washed his hands.
"Then Pilate, calling together the chief priests and the magistrates of the people, said to them: ' You have brought this man to me, as one that perverteth the people, and behold, I having examined him before you, find no cause in this man, touching those things wherein you accuse him. No, nor yet Herod, for I sent you to him, and behold nothing worthy of death is done to him.'
" But the whole multitude cried out at once, saying 'Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas,' who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison. And Pilate spoke to them again desiring to release Jesus. But they cried out: ' Crucify him, Crucify him.' And he said to them the third time. 'Why, what evil hath this man done ? I find no cause of death in him, I will chastise him therefore and led him go.' But they insisted with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified, and their voices prevailed." (Matt, xxvii. 22, 23.)
The Pharisees and priests had stirred up the people to again demand the release of Jesus Bar-Abbas in place of Jesus Christ. They had gathered all the enemies of the Lord in the palace, and distributed money from the Temple treasury among the people. Pilate wanted to deliver the innocent Victim and he had hoped that the people, who hated Bar-Abbas, because he was a murderer and had been convicted of many crimes, would be chosen for execution in place of Jesus. The chief men of Jewry then advanced towards Pilate and said:
"Grant us the favor you have always given on the festival day." Pilate answered: ' It is customary for me to deliver to you a criminal at the time of the Passover, Whom will you that I release to you, Jesus Bar-Abbas, or Jesus, who is called the Christ ?' There was a hesitation in the vast crowd at this question asked the second time, and a few of them replied 'Bar-Abbas.' The Pharisees arid priests were anxious and began again to stir up the people.