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Verse 17. Whom will ye that I release, etc. Pilate was satisfied of the innocence of Jesus, Lu 23:13-16 he was therefore desirous of releasing him. He expected to release one to the people. He knew that Jesus, though condemned by the chief priests, was yet popular among the people. He therefore attempted in this manner to rescue him from the hands of the priests, and expected that the people would prefer him to an odious and infamous robber and murderer. Had the people been left to themselves, it would probably have been done.

Jesus which is called Christ. That is, Jesus who claims to be the Messiah. Pilate probably did not believe it, or care much for it. He used the name which Jesus had acquired among the people. Perhaps, also, he thought that they would be more likely to ask him to be released, if he was presented to them as the Messiah. Mark Mr 15:9 adds, that he asked them whether they would that he should release "the King of the Jews?" It is probable that he asked the question in both ways. Perhaps it was several times repeated; and Matthew has recorded one way in which it was asked, and Mark another. He asked them whether they would demand him who was called the Christ—expecting that they would be moved by the claims of the Messiah, claims which, when he entered Jerusalem in triumph, and in the temple, they had acknowledged. He asked them whether they would have the King of the Jews—probably to ridicule the priests who had delivered him on that charge. He did it to show the people how absurd the accusation was. There he stood, apparently a poor, inoffensive, unarmed, and despised man. Herod set him at naught, and scourged him, and sent him back. The charge, therefore, of the priests, that he was a king opposed to the Roman emperor, was supremely ridiculous; and Pilate expecting the people would see it so, hoped also that they would ask him to be released.

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