The role of the Roman procurator who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus has been written into our Christian creed.
Pilate was appointed procurator (governor) of the province of Judea by Emperor Tiberius in AD 26. He served for 10 years. His reputation was that of an efficient administrator, but he could also be bad-tempered and cruel. He was, moreover, contemptuous of the Jews, and was therefore despised by them in turn. It was he who mixed the blood of some Galileans with their sacrifices, Lk 13:1. His over-riding desire was to keep the Jews under control, and he was ruthless in his suppression of any threats to law and order.
The Jewish leaders brought Jesus to Pilate with the accusation that he was subverting their nations, that he opposed the paying of taxes to Caesar, and that he claimed to be Christ, a king, Lk 23:2.
Pilate remained convinced of Jesus’ innocence, and declared so three times. This conviction was confirmed by his wife’s dream, Mt 27:19.
Pilate made a number of attempts to avoid condemning Jesus to death while at the same placating the Jews who wanted him crucified. First, he tried transfering the responsibility for trying Jesus to Herod. But Herod sent him back unsentenced, Lk 23:5-12. Second, he tried the half-measure of having Jesus flogged, with the intention of then releasing him, Lk 23:16,22. Third, he tried to get the crowd to choose Jesus as the prisoner to be released in connection with the Passover amnesty. Fourth, he tried to protest his own innocence by washing his hands in front of the crowd, Mt 27:24.
But in the end Pilate capitulated to the crowd’s demand to have Jesus crucified, Lk 23:23-25. He wanted to release Jesus (Lk 23:20), but he also wanted to please the crowd (Mk 15:15), and he could not have it both ways. The matter was clinched when the crowd said to him, “If you let this man go you are no friend of Caesar”, Jn 19:12. So Pilate chose ambition over honour, expediency over principle. He had been in trouble with Tiberius Caesar before; he could not risk a repeat.
Based on Stott, The Cross of Christ, 48-52.