As Pilate, trembling with fearful emotion, sat down by the side of Jesus, he inquired: “Where do you come from? Really, who are you? What is this they say, that you are the Son of God?”
But Jesus could hardly answer such questions when asked by a man-fearing, weak, and vacillating judge who was so unjust as to subject him to flogging even when he had declared him innocent of all crime, and before he had been duly sentenced to die. Jesus looked Pilate straight in the face, but he did not answer him. Then said Pilate: “Do you refuse to speak to me? Do you not realize that I still have power to release you or to crucify you?” Then said Jesus: “You could have no power over me except it were permitted from above. You could exercise no authority over the Son of Man unless the Father in heaven allowed it. But you are not so guilty since you are ignorant of the gospel. He who betrayed me and he who delivered me to you, they have the greater sin.”
This last talk with Jesus thoroughly frightened Pilate. This moral coward and judicial weakling now labored under the double weight of the superstitious fear of Jesus and mortal dread of the Jewish leaders.
Again Pilate appeared before the crowd, saying: “I am certain this man is only a religious offender. You should take him and judge him by your law. Why should you expect that I would consent to his death because he has clashed with your traditions?”
Pilate was just about ready to release Jesus when Caiaphas, the high priest, approached the cowardly Roman judge and, shaking an avenging finger in Pilate’s face, said with angry words which the entire multitude could hear: “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend, and I will see that the emperor knows all.” This public threat was too much for Pilate. Fear for his personal fortunes now eclipsed all other considerations, and the cowardly governor ordered Jesus brought out before the judgment seat. As the Master stood there before them, he pointed to him and tauntingly said, “Behold your king.” And the Jews answered, “Away with him. Crucify him!” And then Pilate said, with much irony and sarcasm, “Shall I crucify your king?” And the Jews answered, “Yes, crucify him! We have no king but Caesar.” And then did Pilate realize that there was no hope of saving Jesus since he was unwilling to defy the Jews.
--Presented by the Midwayer Commission, from the Urantia Papers.