How is it that all four gospels portray Pilate as recognizing the innocence of Jesus and being extremely reluctant to order his execution?



What is most intriguing (and enlightening) is that over time in the Christian tradition – both inside the New Testament and outside of it – Pilate becomes more and more innocent in the death of Jesus with the passing of time.   You can see this clearly simply by lining up the Gospels chronologically and seeing how they portray Pilate at the trial of Jesus.

Our earliest Gospel is Mark (15:1-15).  There Pilate is somewhat reluctant to do what the Jewish leaders ask him to do – crucify Jesus – and he seems a bit bewildered.  He has a custom of releasing a prisoner during Passover and suggests Jesus.  But the crowd, stirred up by the chief priests, wants Barabbas instead.  And so, after a very brief trial Pilate, does what they ask.  Here Pilate is simply complying with the Jews’ wishes; he puts up some resistance, but not a whole lot.

Our next Gospel (chronologically) is Matthew (27:11-26).  Here Pilate is …

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