Pilate was not convinced of Jesus’ guilt and was not willing that he should die, but sought to release him. “Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man. And they were the more fierce, saying, He stirreth up the people.” (Luke 23:4,5) When Pilate sought to release him, his accusers “cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar”—against the civil power, and such is therefore guilty of sedition. (John 19:12) “And he [Pilate] said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.” (Luke 23:22-24) Thus the civil power yielded to the importunities of ecclesiasticism, and Jesus was led away and crucified on Calvary’s hill. And Pilate, more righteous than the clerics, posted over his cross the sign: “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews”.
Thus died the Son of God, the great antitypical “Lamb ... which taketh away the sin of the world”. (John 1:29) In the eyes of those that stood by he died as a sinner, crucified between two thieves, under the charge of disloyalty to the constituted powers, yet wholly innocent, harmless, and without sin.
Here he fulfilled that which the Prophet of God had foretold of him long in advance, in that he “poured out his soul unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors, and he bare the sin of many”. —Isaiah 53:12.
WHY MUST HE DIE?
But why should the great, the good, the pure, the sinless Man die in such an ignominious manner as this? Was there no other means whereby man could live? The Scriptures answer that there is no other way whereby man could get life. Divine justice demanded the life of the perfect man Adam and took that life. Divine justice could receive nothing as a substitute for Adam except the life of a perfect human being. Adam was put to death because he was a sinner. The one who would redeem Adam must die as a sinner, yet without sin. And all this Jesus did.
It is important here for us to see why Jesus came to earth, grew to manhood’s estate and died. The Prophet speaking the words of Jesus beforehand said: “Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart”. (Psalm 40:7,8; Hebrews 10:7-10) Thus we see that he had come to do God’s will. The apostle Paul expressed the will of God concerning mankind when he said: “God ... will have all men to be saved [from death], and brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth”. (1 Timothy 2:3,4) This is in harmony with God’s promise that he would redeem mankind from death (Hosea 13:14); and since Jesus came to carry out the Father’s will to ransom the human race, he must do this. This is the only means whereby man could live. Therefore Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly".—John 10:10.