29 Pilate then went out to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this Man?” 30 They answered and said to him, “If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.” 31 Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.” Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,” 32 that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke, signifying by what death He would die.
Pilate then went out to them and said,
Pilate was Roman governor of Judea from AD 26-36. There was an atmosphere of hatred between Pilate and the Jews. The Jews resented Gentile rule over them. Pilate particularly agitated them by many of his actions.
Since the Jews would not go into the residence of the governor because of scruples, Pilate came out to speak to them in the courtyard.
“What accusation [indictment] do you bring against this Man?”
Pilate understood what the Jews attempted to do with Jesus, so he asked for the specific accusation. He asked for a formal charge.
It was for envy that the Jews delivered Jesus for crucifixion (Mt 27:18). The Sanhedrin had met earlier to make an accusation of blasphemy against Jesus (Lu 22:66). When they came to Pilate, they changed the indictment to treason (Lu 23:1-2).
They answered and said to him,
Jewish leaders responded to Pilate’s request for proof for their charge against Jesus with an insolent statement.
“If He were not an evildoer [criminal], we would not have delivered Him up to you.”
Jewish leaders knew that they did not have a case against Jesus, so they asked for the Roman government to put Him to death without evidence. This was an impertinent answer.
An “evildoer” here refers to someone who committed treason against Rome. They changed the charge from theological to political. They hoped that Pilate would rubber stamp their decision. Their argument evaded Pilate’s request for a proper charge against Jesus. They offered no specific formal charge against Him.
Then Pilate said to them, “You take Him and judge Him according to your law.”
Pilate reminded the Jews that they had the right to judge most criminal cases under Herod. He attempted to dismiss their concerns. He had heard no specific charge against Jesus.
Therefore the Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death,”
The Roman government did not permit Jewish leaders to execute people. Pilate had that authority.
that the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled which He spoke,
The fulfillment of Jesus’ statement goes back to John 12:32-33 where He alluded to His crucifixion.
signifying by what death [crucifixion] He would die.
Jewish leaders sought Pilate to put Jesus to death by crucifixion.
The hand of God Himself was in the crucifixion of Jesus.
Jewish execution was normally by stoning, which broke bones. Scripture prophesied that not a bone of His would be broken (Jn 19:36-37). The kind of death that Jesus would die was by crucifixion (Ac 2:23; 4:27). A person under a curse was displayed on a tree (Dt 21:23; Ga 3:13). It was by God’s hand that Jesus was crucified.