Pilate's choice

Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” (Luke 23:4-5)

Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. I will therefore punish and release him.” (Luke 23:13-16)

Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.” But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will. (Luke 23:20-25)

Pilate does not think Jesus is not guilty, he does not think he deserves death. He seems like he wants to do the right thing, he doesn't want to kill an innocent man for no reason, repeatedly trying to offer a less severe punishment to placate the crowds. But, even so, he eventually hands them over to him. Something overrided the impulse of justice or his sense of sympathy. Keeping the peace, or keeping his position secure, was more valuable to him than Jesus. He didn't want this man to die, but if it came to a choice between one man's life and the security of the Roman control, then the man would have to die. If it came down to a choice between what Pilate wanted and Jesus, Pilate chose himself, a choice we have all repeated countless times.

There was another choice going on here. Jesus choosing to be subjected to this, choosing to die for us, the ones who were choosing ourselves over him. He chose us over himself.