The chiasm outlined by Jo-Ann A. Brant has a classic seven-point structure.

A Exterior: John 18:29-32, Jesus is brought to Pilate with a demand for execution; Pilate refuses

     B Interior: John 18:33-38, Pilate asks about Jesus’s royal claim

          C Exterior: John 18:38-40, Pilate finds Jesus innocent, but the temple elite choose Barabbas

               D Interior: John 19:1-3, Soldiers scourge and scorn Jesus

          C’ Exterior: John 19:4-8, Pilate finds Jesus innocent, but temple elite charge capital crime

      B’ Interior: John 19:9-11, Pilate asks about Jesus’s origins

A’ Exterior: John 19:12-15, Temple elite demand Jesus’s execution; Pilate agrees

In his fifth and final attempt to spare Jesus the cross, Pilate had him flogged, a punishment so savage and severe, many people died still strapped to the whipping post. In a very meaningful way, the Lamb’s blood was spilled in Jerusalem, and though he was not on the temple mount, by Jesus’s time all of Jerusalem and the inhabitants within were considered Zion.

The inward movement of the chiasm reached its climax in this shedding of the Lamb’s blood. Now would come the process by which the innocent Lamb of God would be offered up to die and become accursed, hanging on a “tree.”


The crowd murmured and parted as the soldiers led the staggering and bloodied man to where Pilate stood on the dais, the Seat of Judgment behind him. Behold, Pilate said to the chief priests and elders, far across the Praetorium’s hall, I am bringing him forth to you, in order that you would know that I have found not even one cause in him. With a burly soldier on either side of Jesus to prop him up, the procurator motioned that he should be brought up to the dais and presented to the temple elite.

Annas and Caiaphas, who had been standing among the pillars, now came forward with their coterie of elders from the Sanhedrin, their torn robes a public display of their considerable zeal for the Lord’s honor and the immense scandal of Jesus’s blasphemy and heresy. Their features were arranged in lines of injured dignity, walking slowly with noble stateliness. The people drew back even more as their eyes followed their religious rulers. Everything bespoke of solemn spiritual import.

Pilate watched them approach, his lips tracing a thin line, his eyes slitted and impassive, feet apart, arms hung to his sides. From a slight twitch of his hand, the phalanx of guards knew to return to their original posts behind the governor, along the rear marble columns of the judgment hall.

All three movements seemed to happen at once—Jesus being brought up to the dais, Pilate’s royally arrayed guard moving as one body to the back of the upper hall, and the temple elite in a great show of gravity over offenses against the Most High, finally approaching the Seat of Judgment.

In dramatic simplicity, Pilate spoke with all the authority of his position, Behold the person. Caiaphas looked on with keen distaste, Annas with frustrated disappointment, the elders with affront.

John, hidden in the crowd, looked on with anguish, then felt tingling in his arms and legs as the hairs rose up. Somehow, the morning sun streaming into the Praetorium court had again found the Master, for now the tawny tint of twisted vines had taken on a golden hue, rays of diffused light shining in halos from each thorny point, and the vibrant wine of the sumptuous robe seemed a slowly undulating river of blood, edged in gold. The bruises on his face now etched hollows beneath his eyes, and even his beard sparkled in a wondrous effervescence that seemed to spread soft radiance all around his head.

Others must have seen what John saw, then felt the silky spring breeze that unexpectedly blew through the court in just that moment, bringing swirls and eddies of coolness through the heat of so many bodies pressed together. John though he could even smell a faint scent of the temple’s incense.

Though he had staggered to the dais, held erect by the soldiers, Jesus now stood alone with quiet grandeur, resplendent in the golden sun, the stature of a king. Those near John now began to whisper and point to the Healer, luminous in splendor.

Annas was the first to speak, his voice low. Crucify him. But Pilate acted as though he had not heard. He had removed the older man from office, and installed Caiaphas in his place. It was not to Annas the procurator turned his attention, but rather Caiaphas the high priest he kept in his view. Caiaphas, whose gaze had been held by Jesus, startled and turned towards his father-in-law. Annas raised his voice, his tone a blade of steel. Crucify. Him. But already the Sanhedrin officials had begun to shout, Crucify, crucify! And Caiaphas joined in.

Pilate slowly shook his head in disgust. It was morally repugnant to him to kill a man who was so obviously innocent. He had not hesitated to kill men in his day. He had sent many to the cross, others to the whip, and still others to molder in prison, putting down insurrections and rebellions without misgiving. He had no truck with seditionists, the arrogant, the obstinate, the intractable, nor even with the petty thief and hapless intransigent, who did not bend to the Law of Rome he had been appointed to uphold. He had no great love for this people, either. But he was a true Roman and he knew the value of justice. Pax Romana was harsh to the evildoer, but to be trusted by the lawful citizen.

Now the cool breeze, carrying with it muted hints of frankincense and myrrh, brushed gently against Pilate’s cheeks, and it was as though all his senses sharpened, he could see every detail, smell every odor, feel the slightest touch. His chest tightened with a strange sensation, as though energy were beginning to form and push against the inside of him. He felt suddenly restless and impatient.

The chief priests and temple officials, seemingly unaffected by the current, had warmed to their chant, shouting with animated vigor to crucify, as Jesus watched them in his stillness.

With sharp retort, the governor spoke, You seize him yourselves! his voice so biting, the religious rulers stopped mid word, their mouths still open, their eyes round with surprise. Even as they began to recover, Pilate continued, Then -you- crucify. Annas’s mouth clamped shut with a snap, and his eyes narrowed in fury. Pilate held up a hand that meant do not speak.

For I myself do not find cause in him. The procurator’s expression was obdurate, a challenge to the temple elite.

Now it was Caiaphas who sputtered in growing anger. We have a law! he said, pointing with aggressive emphasis in the direction of the temple mount. And according to the law he must die. Annas and the elders raised a small chorus of yeses and exactlys.

Because he made himself Son of God. Annas now spoke with careful calculation, using the term usually reserved by the gentiles for the Roman emperor. No one of Jewish faith would say such words, and indeed, the emperor had with rare leniency waived the requirement for those of Jewish faith to pay any kind of obeisance to the emperor, or any other god. In their case, given their fierce loyalty to their Almighty Adonai, and the great lengths—to the death—the people routinely went in their fanatical adherence to monotheism, it was the only way to keep peace in Palestine, and throughout the realm.

The cool breeze suddenly became a chill wind that sent a shiver through Pilate, a shudder that started in his shoulders and moved down through his whole body. Unbidden, he recalled wife’s words, Nothing to you, then, is to be this righteous and just one, for I suffered much through a dream about him.

He had said he was a king, but of a realm that was not here. Pilate had intuited this was a spiritual matter, something he had no jurisdiction in, nor did he want it. The energy within him was now becoming so painful he had to suppress the urge to press his hand against his chest. His breath hurt with it, his back and shoulders ached with it. He turned to Jesus, his acute vision taking in every point of shining light on the crown of thorns, every tiny drop of blood and bead of sweat glistening on his face, every fold and flow of the wine rich robe falling around his form, every ray of sun and shadow that fell across his face.

The shouts from the religious rulers, the rattle and murmur and sway of the roiling crowd in the Praetorium’s court, every metallic clank and swish of the soldiers standing restlessly beside the mysterious King of the Judeans, Son of Most High God, receded until all Pilate could hear was his own ragged breath and pulsing heart.

For the first time, fear edged its way into his mind.


[Ecco Homo | By Antonio Ciseri – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Eccehomo1.jpg (en:User:GeorgeC)http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesus.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=465178%5D

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