Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend!”
Rome’s first emperor was an able ruler, and at his death, many in Rome were encouraged to believe that the new method of government, government by an emperor, might work well. However, Tiberias, the second emperor, turned out to be a mad man. Within a few years, he had everybody in the empire terrified of his death squads. The slightest suggestion of disloyalty could mean a night-time arrest and permanent disappearance. Neighbor informed against neighbor, fearing that the neighbor would inform against them first. It was a time in the Empire called “The Reign of Terror”, and that was an appropriate name for the spirit of the times.
The Reign of Terror reached to the outer limits of the Empire, including the lowly outpost called Palestine, where an unusual man named Jesus was on trial.
With knowledge of the situation of fear among the Romans at being rumored to be disloyal to Tiberias, one can understand better what the Jewish elders and priests were doing to Pontius Pilate when they cried out, “If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend” (John 19:12). They were letting Pontius Pilate know that if he did not crucify Jesus, they would report him to Rome as setting free a man accused of claiming to be king.
Pontius Pilate was blackmailed into crucifying Jesus. His fear of death at the hands of Tiberias’ secret police was greater than his love of what was just and good.
Jesus said that those who loved their own lives more than God would lose their lives eternally. Pilate is a perfect example of that awful, inescapable truth.