Mark 15:9-15 (NASB) 9 Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12 Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13 They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14 But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!” 15 Wishing to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas for them, and after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Mark’s gospel states that Pilate was aware that the chief priests were just jealous of Jesus, which is why they handed Him over for execution. He was obviously uncomfortable with the situation, so he asked the crowd if they wanted to release Jesus. He wanted to be able to blame someone else for an innocent man’s death. The chief priests encouraged the crowd to release a known murderer, so that Jesus Christ would be crucified.
Pilate’s motive was to please the crowd, although he knew Jesus did not deserve crucifixion. The chief priests’ motive was to get rid of Jesus, who threatened the status quo of religion, where they had all the authority and power. The actions that they performed lined up with their motives. Pilate let a murderer go free after the priests convinced the crowd to ask for it.
Both Pilate and the priests knew Jesus had done nothing worthy of death, but they were too concerned with their own positions in society to do the right thing. There is a lesson to take from this story. We cannot care more about our titles than our scruples. Injustice should not be tolerated, let alone perpetuated. We have a responsibility to the world to live by Christ’s example. He loved us more than He loved His position. He willingly left His throne to give us a chance at abundant life. His actions lined up with His motive, as well. His only motive for becoming sin for us was LOVE.