Greater and Lesser Sins
John 19:10-11
Then said Pilate to him, Speak you not to me? know you not that I have power to crucify you, and have power to release you?…

The delivering of Christ to suffer and to die is sometimes spoken of as a good deed (Romans 8:32). And it was no sinful act in God; but was an act of —

(1) Love (John 3:16).

(2) Infinite justice. When He had taken our debt upon Him, it was just that He should suffer for it. But in Judas it was a wicked act. God delivered Him to Judas, Judas to the priests, the priests to Pilate, and Pilate to death. There was sin in all those, but there was no sin in God.


1. In the same definition. They are all a breach of the law.

2. In the desert of them (Galatians 3:10: Romans 6:23). Every transgression of the law deserves death.

3. In that the same price is paid to satisfy for them; no little sin is satisfied with less than the blood of Christ.

4. In respect of the possibility of the pardon of them; it was ill-said of Cain, "Mine iniquity is greater than can be forgiven" (mar. Genesis 4:13).

II. IN WHAT RESPECT IS ONE SIN SAID TO BE GREATER THAN ANOTHER? When one sin is said to be little, it is not meant absolutely as if any sin were little, but comparatively. There are three Scripture comparisons.

1. Some sins are called gnats, others camels (Matthew 23:24).

2. Some motes, and others as beams.

3. Some pence, and others talents. Note that some sins —

(1)  Are more displeasing to God than others.

(2)  Grieve the conscience more than others.

(3)  Procure more plagues and punishments in this world than others.

(4)  Sink people lower in belt than others.

(5)  Spread more of their infection upon others.

(a)  By the example. He that begins m a sin, that sin is greater in him than in others; therefore, Adam's sin was great, because we all sinned in him.

(b)  In respect of the penal consequence: the sin of David in numbering the people was great; and it appeared, because God did visit it on His people, and slew thousands of them; therefore, all sins are not alike.

III. WHAT IS IT THAT MAKES ONE SIN GREATER THAN ANOTHER. Judas's sin was the greater for four reasons.

1. It was a leading sin (Acts 1:16). He is called the guide to them that took Jesus. Take heed how you are, any of you, guides to others to sin.

2. That which moved Pilate was fear of Caesar; but it was not fear that made Judas betray Christ, but love of money (cf. Matthew 26:14, 15 with Luke 22:3, 4, 5). Satan entered into Judas. So, where the love of money is, it is a sign that the devil is entered. There is no sin so great but the love of money will make a man commit it; so it was with Ananias and Sapphira; Satan had filled their hearts.

3. The greatest aggravation of Judas's sin was the price — thirty pieces of silver; the price of a common servant (Exodus 21:32).

4. The dissimulation that was in it.

(1)  Pilate was a heathen, a stranger to Christ.

(2)  Pilate did it openly; but Judas did it in the night, when honest people were a-bed.

(3)  What Judas did, he did with a kiss, but Pilate did not do so (Matthew 26.).

5. The deliberation and contrivance that was in it (Luke 22:21). Pilate's hand was not there. Every premeditated sin is a great sin (Micah 2:1). It is one thing to be overtaken with a fault, and another thing to overtake it. Conclusion: What happened to Judas for this sin?

1. He died by his own hand despairing.

2. It brought him to his own place.

3. His name stinks to this day.

(Philip Henry.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?

WEB: Pilate therefore said to him, "Aren't you speaking to me? Don't you know that I have power to release you, and have power to crucify you?"

All Power from God
Top of Page
Top of Page