From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out saying, If you let this man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.
The trial of Jesus Christ took an unusual course. On the one side stood the Jews’ high priest with many of their compatriots demanding the execution of the accused. They insisted on His being sentenced to death.
On the other side stood Pilate, the governor appointed by the Roman emperor and the supreme judge. He soon recognized that this was no normal trial against a common criminal.
The accusations were vague and contradictory. They gave no convincing reason for the death sentence demanded. The accusers’ motive was obvious: it was envy.
Between these two sides stood Jesus Christ. He remained totally silent, making no personal attempt to justify Himself. With a dignity visible to all He allowed Himself to be unjustly accused. He clearly spoke the truth.
Pilate knew only too well that justice demanded a verdict of “not guilty”. But the accusers were dissatisfied and produced one final argument: Pilate should defend the rights of the Roman emperor. Jesus’ claim to be the King of the Jews contravened the authority of the emperor. Through an acquittal Pilate would be opposing the emperor. This intimated a threat to accuse Pilate before Cesar, should he fail to pronounce the death sentence they desired.
Facing such a risk Pilate gave way. Despite proven innocence Pilate condemned the Son of God to death by crucifixion.