From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar's friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. (Jn 19:12-16)
“We have no king but Caesar.” It’s unbelievable to hear this from the mouths of the Jews. The Jews is code in John for the Pharisees and those in power. He doesn’t malign all Jews. A person reading this book has to understand that John himself, and Jesus too were both Jews. But now these men of standing who represent the nation politically are saying that there is no king but Caesar. They would not have said that the day before. In fact the day before they would have laughed at you should you have predicted this. It was an embarrassment to the nation of Israel that they had been conquered by the Romans, they bristled under this foreign occupation. The nation that was once a nation of Egyptian slaves, were now little more than a nation of Roman slaves in their own country. It would be these same people who caused Jesus to weep over Jerusalem the city of peace that did not know the things that made for peace. And within a generation Titus would come and lay the city to waste because it would not recognize Caesar as it’s king. “We have no king but Caesar”, only went to show Pilate how determined they were to have crucified this man whom Pilate at risk to his own career is trying to free. Pilate was known as Caesar’s friend. It was a title given to those who gave particular service to the Roman state, it bought privilege and prestige. But the Jews have threatened to charge Pilate with treason, and to show how serious they are they utter a blasphemy. They make Caesar king when the only King over Israel is to be God alone. Now this God, the King of the Jews is handed over to be crucified, and to lead Israel out of slavery once more, but this time it is not earthly bondage that he deals with, but spiritual. With Christ’s death the true Passover lamb will be sacrificed, and with that sacrifice the release from bondage secured even as the Passover lamb secured the freedom of Israel from Egypt when the Angel of Death passed over the homes where the Passover lamb had been eaten.