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12 From then on Pilate tried to find a way out of the situation and to set him free, but the Jewish authorities shouted him down: “If you let this man go, you’re no friend of Caesar! Anyone who declares himself a king is an enemy of the emperor!”[a]

13 So when Pilate heard this threat, he relented and had Jesus, who was torn and bleeding, brought outside. Then he went up the elevated stone platform and took his seat on the judgment bench—which in Aramaic is called Gabbatha,[b] or “The Bench.” 14 And it was now almost noon. And it was the same day they were preparing to slay the Passover lambs.[c]

Then Pilate said to the Jewish officials, “Look! Here is your king!”

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  1. John 19:12 In essence, these words were a form of blackmail as the Jewish authorities were reminding Pilate that it would ruin his career if he pardoned Jesus. The term “friend of Caesar” was an honorific title given only to the ruling wealthy class of Romans who would have access to the emperor’s court. Many of these friends of Caesar were senators and members of the Equestrian Order, known also as the Knights. Pilate’s position was a political appointment due to his being a member of this elite class of Romans who took an oath of loyalty to Caesar. They were, in effect, threatening to inform Rome that Pilate was allowing treason in Caesar’s empire. As one historian remarked, “One false move and his appointment would be cancelled and his career finished” (P. Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times, Illinois: InterVarsity, 1999, p. 147). This overruled Pilate’s desire to set Jesus free. He went on to condemn him to death. To place your career over Jesus is never wise.
  2. John 19:13 Gabbatha is an Aramaic compound word meaning “on the side of the house” (gab, “on the side,” and batha, “the house”). This would be a stone bench that was used by Pilate to issue sentence. See 2 Chron. 7:3; Ezek. 40:17.
  3. John 19:14 Jesus, our Passover Lamb, would be crucified at the very moment Jewish priests were slaughtering lambs in the temple. See Ex. 12:6. Because there were so many lambs to be killed, the priesthood in that day extended the time of slaughter from noon to twilight—the very hours Jesus was on the cross.