In reading the first half of John 19 the other day, I was struck with how real, how straightforward the narration is. It does not read like a made-up mythopoetic fantasy, but instead like reportage (I’m paraphrasing C.S. Lewis). But see what you think:
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face.
Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!”
As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!” But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the “Stone Pavement” (which in Aramaic is “Gabbatha”). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the “Place of the Skull” (which in Aramaic is called “Golgotha”). There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.