Pilate's Character Reading
Matthew 27:18
For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

He knew that for envy they had delivered him. Pilate was never under any sort of delusion concerning Christ. Experience as a magistrate made the criminal's face, and attitude, and speech, and ways, quite familiar things to him. He watched Jesus, and was perfectly certain that he was no criminal, and no dangerous revolutionist. And Pilate had not had contention after contention with that priest party without knowing the party well; and his estimate of it we can well imagine. It did not flatter them, and it was just. Of course, he saw everything from the Roman's point of view, and he made some mistakes, as every one must who fails to put himself in the place of him whom he appraises; he was, however, right in this case. But what he read seriously increases the guilt and shame of his act. He has no excuse of even self-deception.

I. PILATE'S READING OF THE CHARACTER AND MOTIVES OF THE PRIEST PARTY. Pilate "was a typical Roman, not of the antique, simple stamp, but of the imperial period; a man not without some remains of the ancient Roman justice in his soul, yet pleasure loving, imperious, and corrupt. He hated the Jews whom he ruled, and, in times of irritation, freely shed their blood. They returned his hatred with cordiality, and accused him of every crime - maladministration, cruelty, and robbery." "Pilate understood their pretended zeal for the Roman authority." He may not have known the precise occasion for their strong feeling against Jesus; but he saw plainly that it was a case of malice and revenge, and they were prepared to humiliate themselves utterly in carrying out their evil purpose. But, if Pilate knew them so well, we must judge his guilt in yielding to them by the light of his knowledge.

II. PILATE'S READING OF THE CHARACTER AND MOTIVES OF JESUS. He seems to have known something of Jesus. The story of the triumphal entry had been duly reported to him; and he formed his opinion when he found that Jesus took no material advantage of that time of excitement. He settled it - Jesus was a harmless enthusiast, of no account politically. "He questioned Jesus in regard to the accusations brought against him, asking especially if he pretended to be a King." He may have laughed cynically at our Lord's answer, but he knew well that nothing of the demagogue lurked behind that calm and peaceful face. Again and again he declared him innocent - he found no fault in him. Pilate read him aright, but condemned himself in the reading. Our guilt is always measured by our knowledge. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.

WEB: For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up.

The Release of Barabbas
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