555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

233. Who Were the More Guilty of Christ's Death, the Jews or the Romans?

Both were guilty, although the onus of the malevolent persecution of Christ rests with the Jews. When they brought him before Pilate and that official, although representing the power of Rome, and even admitting that he could "find no fault" in Jesus weakly yielded to the fanatical clamor for the sacrifice, he became a principal with a full share of responsibility for the tragedy that followed. A stronger man, backed by the Roman authority and convinced of the injustice of the mob's demand, would have resolutely refused to permit the innocent to suffer. History is full of passages recording the nobility and justice of men whose firmness checked the commission of crimes in the name of law. Roman justice, even in that day, was proverbial. It was therefore the duty of Pilate to have executed justice as Governor of Judea. When he had examined Christ and declared that he "found no fault in him" (John 19*6), and again when he declined to acknowledge responsibility for the "blood of this just person," he was pledged by his judicial oaths to execute not injustice in obedience to clamor, but justice, even in the face of the whole Jewish nation. Roman laws governed Judea; the native laws, secular and ecclesiastical, could only be recognized and enforced where they did not conflict with those of Rome. Pilate stifled the voice of conscience, set aside the result of his judicial inquiry, disregarded the warning of his wife, and basely consented to a murder in obedience to Jewish clamor. The priests, it is true never wavered in their demand for the Saviour's death, and even warned Pilate that if he refused to order the execution he would not be Caesar's friend. This touched the Governor's weak point: his ambition. To stand well with Caesar he gratified the populace and ordered his troops to carry out their wishes.