After Pilate had asked, What is truth? he remembered a custom of the Jews, of releasing one prisoner at the passover, and did not wait for Christ’s answer, for fear to losing this chance of saving Him, which he much wished to do. And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews.
He could not dismiss the idea from his mind, that Jesus was King of the Jews; as if the Truth itself, whom he had just asked what it was, had inscribed it there as a title.
Upon this they cried out: Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. now Barabbas was a robber. We blame you not, O Jews, for releasing a guilty man at the passover, but for killing an innocent one. Yet unless this were done, it were ere not the true passover.
This custom was not commanded in the law, but had been handed down by tradition from the old fathers, viz. that in remembrance of their deliverance out of Egypt, they should release a prisoner at the passover. Pilate tries to persuade them: Will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews.
Inasmuch then as they abandoned the Savior, and sought out a robber, to this day the devil practices his robberies upon them.
Pilate saith unto Him, What is truth? Pilate supposed Christ to be a philosopher or prophet, who speculated about truth. And therefore he asked Him what that truth was to which He was born to bear witness. But this was not much to the point which he was aiming at, viz, the deliverance of Jesus, who was a grave, wise, and innocent man. And therefore he thought on a very fitting means for His deliverance. For he was about to set free one at the feast; and therefore compared Jesus and Barabbas, in order that the Jews should rather ask for Jesus than Barabbas. He therefore rushed out to propose it to them.
Symbolically. What is truth? S. Augustine answers (in Sententi, 386), "Truth is God Himself, who is the primal source of life, and the primal essence, as He is the highest wisdom. For He is that unchangeable truth which is rightly termed "the law of all arts, and the art of the Almighty Artificer."" And also (Epist. ix.), "The truth held by Christians is incomparably more beautiful than...
He does not deny the glory of His Kingdom, nor leave it to the voice of Pilate only to affirm it, for as God He is King, whether man so will, or no; but He once more showed the power of the truth which impelled Pilate, though reluctant, to declare the glory of Him Who was on His trial; for, He says: Thou hast said, that I am a King. For this cause was I born, He says, and came into this world when I became Man, that I should bear witness unto the truth; that is, that He might take lying out of the world, and, having subdued the devil, who gained his way by guile, He might show truth triumphant over the universe; truth----that is, that nature that is truly sovereign by nature, which has not by craft acquired the ability to hold rule and dominion over heaven and earth, and, in a word, everything that is brought into being; nor has this been added unto it from without, but it is seen to be essentially and naturally inherent. In order, too, that He might show that Pilate's dulness of appre...
But for the present he applies himself to what was pressing, for he knew that this question needed time, and desired to rescue Him from the violence of the Jews. Wherefore he went out, and what said he?
I find no fault in him.
Consider how prudently he acted. He said not, Since he has sinned, and is deserving of death, forgive him on account of the Feast; but having first acquitted Him of all guilt, he asks them over and above, if they were not minded to dismiss Him as innocent, yet as guilty to forgive Him on account of the time. Wherefore he added,
He knew that this question required time to answer, and it was necessary immediately to rescue Him from the fury of the Jews. So he went out.
He did not say, He has sinned and is worthy, of death; yet release Him at the feast; but acquitting Him in the first place, he does more than he need do, and asks it as a favor, our, that, if they are unwilling to let Him go as innocent, they will at any rate allow Him the benefit of the season: But you have a custom, that I should release one to you at the passover.
In their madness cast upon Him, till it was very early in the morning, and then they lead Him away to Annas, who was father-in-law to Caiaphas; and when they had done the like things to Him there, it being the day of the preparation, they delivered Him to Pilate the Roman governor, accusing Him of many and great things, none of which they could prove. Whereupon the governor, as out of patience with them, said: "I find no cause against Him."
For it had almost vanished from the world, and become unknown In consequence of the general unbelief.
Pilate isjudicious in replying that Jesus had done nothing wrong, and that there was no reason to suspect Him of aiming at a kingdom. For they might be sure that if He set Himself up as aKing, and a rival of the Roman empire, a Roman prefect would not release Him. When then He says, Will you therefore that I release to you the King of the Jews? he clears Jesus of all guilt, and mocks the Jews, as if to say, Him whom you accuse of thinking Himself a King, the same I bid you release: He does no such thing.