Away With Him, Away With Him!
Based on Series of Sermons on the Repetition of Name and Titles
Preached in PCC Worship Service, 5 November 2017
Part 3 of 3

John 18:28-19:16 unfolds in six scenes. They are as follows:

·  Scene 1: Pilate questions the prosecution (18:28-32)

·  Scene 2: Pilate questions Jesus (18:33-38)

·  Scene 3: Pilate questions the crowd (18:39-40)

·  Scene 4: Pilate presents a beaten Jesus to the crowd (19:1-8)

·  Scene 5: Pilate questions Jesus again (19:9-11)

·  Scene 6: Pilate presents Jesus to the crowd again and hands Him over for crucifixion (19:12-16)  

We have already considered scenes 1 to 5 in our previous two articles. We come now to scene 6 and then to two concluding thoughts.

Scene 6: 
Pilate Presents Jesus 
to the Crowd Again 
& Hands Him Over for Crucifixion 
(Jn 19:12-16)

John tells us in verse 12 that from then on after hearing what Jesus said, Pilate tried to set Jesus free. He was convinced that neither the charge of treason nor the charge of blasphemy was valid. …

… But the Jews introduced yet another factor into the equation that dissuaded Pilate from letting Jesus go. They cried out in verse 12, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: for whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.”

The Emperor at that time was Tiberius Caesar, and Tiberius was known to be quick to entertain suspicions against his subordinates and swift to exact ruthless punishment. Pilate was afraid that the Jewish authorities would complain to Tiberius that he, as their governor, had failed to convict and execute a man who was an insurrectionist and who claimed to be a king, which implied that he opposed Caesar.

But consider the irony of what the Jews were saying in verse 12. In order to get Jesus executed, the Jewish authorities made themselves out to be more loyal subjects of Caesar than even Pilate himself was. They were in effect saying to Pilate, “If you refuse to execute Jesus, then you are not as loyal to Caesar as we are.” Pilate’s loyalty to his own Emperor was now being questioned. And so confronted by such immense pressure from both the Jewish leaders and the Jewish people, Pilate gave up trying to set Jesus free. In verse 13, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place called Gabbatha.

Then in verse 14, he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” as if this were some sort of coronation or crowning ceremony. Pilate was actually mocking Jesus and more importantly, mocking the Jewish authorities and crowd for stubbornly calling for His execution when in fact, He was nothing but a pathetic figure. But the Jewish crowd simply cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him.” They repeatedly and indeed fervently and vehemently demanded that Jesus be taken away from them and crucified.

Pilate mocked them further by asking, “Shall I crucify your king?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” What an awful and terrible thing to say for two reasons. First, by professing Caesar alone as their king, they were disowning the Kingship of the LORD Himself. They were guilty of rendering to Caesar what belongs to God. To say “No king but Caesar” essentially puts God out of the picture and makes Caesar the highest authority. But second, their statement is essentially a denial and abandonment of their hope of the Messiah for the Old Testament scriptures again and again promised that the Messiah would come as a King.

And so they denied God’s authority and they denied their hope in a Messianic king to come. Caesar had been put in place of God, and Caesar had become their new Messiah. The irony is that whereas the Jews had falsely accused Jesus of blasphemy, now, they themselves were truly guilty of blasphemy. This was the height of Jewish apostasy and unfaithfulness to their covenant God. Their rejection of Jehovah was now complete and final. This point, in effect, marks the end of the Jewish nation as the covenant people of God. From now on, the people of God would no longer be confined largely to Israel. The gospel would go forth into the whole world, as the Lord had predicted in Matthew 21:43 when He said to the Jewish leaders, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

Our text ends in verse 16, “Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.” The final scene closes with Jesus being taken away for crucifixion, just as the Jews had requested.

Concluding Thoughts

Here are two brief thoughts as we close:

First, let us see the wickedness and depravity of the Old Covenant people in this whole incident. The Jewish authorities and the Jewish crowd were wicked beyond description. JC Ryle wrote, “Never, surely, was there such an exhibition of the depth of human wickedness since the day when Adam fell.”

The Jews were guilty of falsehood and lies, and seeking to manipulate the judicial system in order to put to death an innocent man, whom they didn’t like. They persisted in their demands to Pilate for His execution and wouldn’t take no for an answer. They preferred a real and dangerous criminal to be released to them rather than an innocent and harmless man. And they were even willing to speak such blasphemous words as “we have no king but Caesar.”

Isn’t it remarkable that the Jews, who were such a highly favoured and privileged people for all those thousands of years prior to Christ’s coming, should eventually do what they did to their promised Messiah? Over the years, they had lost sight of what was really important and who they were supposed to be worshipping and serving. They were zealous of celebrating the feast of the Passover but they could not see the true Passover Lamb standing before them. They charged Jesus for speaking blasphemy but they could not see that they were the ones who were truly guilty of that.

But as the New Covenant people of God, let’s be very careful that we do not fall into the same error as the people of old. And the only way that we will avoid that is if we are abiding and living and walking closely with Christ Himself and our eyes are fixed on Him at all times. He is the One who truly matters. Nothing else counts if we do not have Christ and are not living for Him.

This brings us to the second closing thought, namely, let us see, by faith, the beauty and glory and excellency of Christ in this passage.

Pilate said to the Jews in a mocking way, “Behold the man!” and “Behold your king!” The Jews saw only one whom they hated and wanted dead. As for Pilate, he couldn’t really be bothered who Jesus was as long as He didn’t get him into trouble.

Only through the eyes of faith can we see Him for who He really is. Only by faith can we see that this suffering and despised man called Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the great Messiah sent from God to save His people.

Only by faith can we see that He is the great prophet, who brings the Truth of God and who is Himself the Truth. Only by faith can we see that He is both the Great High Priest and the Passover Lamb at the same time. And only by faith can we see that He is the great King of kings, who reigns over His people and indeed over the entire universe.

I end by asking you this question, “What do you see of Him and in Him?” “Who is Christ to you?” O may the Lord grant every one of us a clearer view of Christ in all His beauty and glory and excellency so that we might love Him and look to Him more and more! Amen.

—Linus Chua