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John 19:1-16a shows us the messiness of politics that led to the death of Jesus.  Pilate liked to think that he was in control of this area where he was governor, but he did not have the luxury of pretending he was not under authority.  In human terms, he served at the pleasure of Caesar — he would have no authority at all unless it had been given him from above.  When Jesus says as much, Jesus is talking not about Caesar but God.  Yet Pilate is more concerned about this world and politically he is in a pretty precarious predicament and the chief priests knew it, and they reminded Pilate that they knew it.  Indeed, they could go complain to Rome that Pilate is no friend of Caesar and he might just lose his position and power.  And in the midst of this political tussle, Pilate manages to make fun of the chief priests.


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