“The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” John 19.7-11
Power from above…. To Pilate, who was freaking out at this moment because they just told him that Jesus was claiming to be he Son of God, “from above” could have either meant Caesar or the gods. As Pilate was a pagan, but probably still religious or believed in the supernatural— considering Jesus to be a son of a god was terrifying. The influence of the Greek deities over Roman rule was still very heavy.
So the Jews were insisting that Jesus must die, and Pilate was trapped in the middle between radical Jewish practice and his own pagan beliefs. Imagine what Pilate must have thought— “What if Jesus was who he said he was?” “He doesn’t seem guilty of a crime… yet if I don’t do anything then I will have a country rioting on my hands.”
So Pilate said to Jesus, “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Pilate’s power was from an earthly authority given to him by Caesar. However, Jesus’s power was from a spiritual authority given to him by God and this supersedes Pilates earthly authority. Pilate thinks he has authority to kill or release Jesus but in truth, all authority belongs to God not Caesar or any human ruler.
In truth, Jesus has the spiritual and earthly authority within himself to step out of bondage and release himself. Yet it took more authority to remain in custody on the path to crucifixion. Jesus remains where he is, not responding to every question, like a lamb to the slaughter, he rarely opened his mouth.
Jesus has all been given all authority on heaven and earth. He used that power to pay the penalty for the sins of the world. This should be a great lesson for us to first, submit to his authority, and second, to use this authority to preach the Gospel and make his name known.
Jesus was facing the trial of his life and in doing so he humbled himself before the Father by submitting to the Jews who wanted to take his life. This was a move only God could do. Thanks be to God.
“O Lord God, all power and authority is yours. However, in this instance, you relinquished this authority so that Jesus might pay the ultimate price for our sins. Thank you Lord for doing what we could never do. You are good and you are God. Thank you for loving us and for allowing us to be your hands and feet by the power of your Holy Spirit. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen