So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” (Lk. 23:4)
So Pilate, coming out of the Praetorium, and coming from his interrogation of Jesus, addressed the chief priests and the crowd. There was apparently a growing mob gathering with the Sanhedrin members that were there – we see that Pilate spoke to the chief priests and the crowd (vs.4b). They were likely anxiously awaiting Pilate’s assessment and/or decision. So Pilate announced to those gathered, “I find no fault in this Man.”
The wording Pilate used accentuated the fact that his findings contradicted theirs. Remember they came to Pilate saying, “We have found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king” (vs.2 NASB emphasis added); and now Pilate declared, “I find no fault in this Man” (vs.4b emphasis added). In both cases the same Greek word for find was used.
This is something Pilate would say a total of three times in Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 23:4,14,22). The word for “fault” is aition (Gr. αἴτιον). Per Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it’s a word that can mean “author” (Heb. 5:9), or “cause” (Acts 19:40), or crime/offense (Lk. 23:4,14,22). It’s the latter that’s in view here. After examining Jesus, Pilate wasn’t buying the accusations of the Sanhedrin, as he himself would state a little later on (Lk. 23:14). He didn’t see Jesus a seditionist and he didn’t see Jesus’ regal self-identification as a threat to Caesar. What actually went through Pilate’s mind, we don’t know. Perhaps as Meyer suggests he saw Jesus as nothing more than a “harmless visionary;” or perhaps as the Pulpit Commentary suggests, he saw in Jesus a kind of strange nobility that was in stark contrast to the hateful propensities of the Jewish religious leadership.
Whatever the case, knowing the chronology of the crucifixion, and how Jesus would, after this, be sent to Herod, then back to Pilate, and then flogged, all before being crucified at 9am suggests that Pilate did not spend an extended time interrogating Jesus. But Jesus’ words to Pilate, e.g. “My kingdom is not of this world,” etc., perhaps the way in which He carried Himself, and whatever else, all lead Pilate to declare, “I find no fault in this man.”
And with that statement Pilate spoke better than he realized. He was essentially – unwittingly prophetic. He ‘preached’ ‘Good News!’ Granted, he did not compose his own rendition of Sinless Savior, but he declared Jesus’ innocence of the charges brought against Him, and his testimony bore witness of both reality and the Scripture’s veracity: In Him there is no sin (1 Jn. 3:5); He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21); He committed no sin and no deceit was found in his mouth (1 Pet. 2:22). How fitting that, at a time in which Jesus was going to be made an offering for sin, that He would be declared guiltless. There He was the guiltless standing in the place of the guilty; the sinless standing in the place of the sinful; and now even a Gentile governor was bearing witness to spotless nature of the lamb of God.