And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas to them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him…
The miserable governor is an example to us of a man of infirm principle who seeks to tide over a difficulty by temporising. He proposed to inflict ignominious sufferings on Christ, grievous in themselves, but yet short of death; hoping in this way to appease the multitude, and by moving their fickle humour by the sight of blood, to induce them to remit the punishment they had just cried out to have executed on Christ. Pilate had no strength of character, no moral rectitude and fortitude. He could not do a right thing unless he were backed up by the people. He must have the popular voice with him to do justice or to commit an injustice. A terrible instance is Pilate to us of what comes of seeking a principle of action, direction, outside of our own selves, of being swayed by popular opinion. Pilate knew too well what were the Jewish expectations of a Messiah to suppose for an instant that the High Priests had delivered Jesus over because He sought to rescue His nation from a foreign domination. He appears never to have been deceived for a moment as to the malignant motives of those who sought the death of Christ; but he had not the moral courage to stand out against the popular voice.
(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.