The pitiable and miserable character of Pilate, the Roman governor, begins to come into clear light from this point [in John 18.37-40].  We see him a man utterly destitute of moral courage, knowing what was right and just in the case before him, yet afraid to act on his knowledge: knowing that our Lord was innocent, yet not daring to displease the Jews be acquitting Him; knowing that he was doing wrong and yet afraid to do right.  “The fear of man brings a snare” (Proverbs 29.25).  Wretched and contemptible are those rulers and statesmen whose first principle is to please the people, even at the expense of their own consciences, and who are ready to do what they know to be wrong rather than offend the mob!  Wretched are those nations which, for their sins, are given over to be governed by such statesmen!  True godly rulers should lead the people and not be led by them, should do what is right and leave consequences to God.  A base determination to keep in with the world at any price and a slavish fear of man’s opinion were leading principles in Pilate’s character.  There are many like him.  Nothing is more common than to see statesmen evading the plain line of duty and trying to shuffle responsibility on others rather than give offense to the mob.  This is precisely what Pilate did here.  The spirit of his reply to the Jews is: “I had rather not be troubled with the case.  Cannot you settle it yourselves without asking me to interfere?” – J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)


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