"You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19:11)

Pliate tried to release Jesus


Jesus says the above statement in response to Pilate's questions:
"Do you refuse to speak to me?" Pilate said. "Don't you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?" (John 19:10)
This is taking place as Pilate has more than once proclaimed that Jesus had committed no crime and there was no basis to persecute him. He told the Jewish leaders:
"Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him." (John 19:4)
Prior to that, Pilate said to them:
"I find no basis for a charge against him." (John 18:38)
And we find Pilate repeatedly tried to release Jesus:
From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, "If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar." (John 19:12)
So clearly, the force to crucify Jesus was coming from the institutional Jewish leaders, and ultimately the high priest. It is for this reason Jesus is saying to Pilate:
"Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."


Jesus is referring to the high priest


Jesus is referring to the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, who ultimately made the decision to arrest Jesus and accuse him of a crime. It was Caiaphas who handed Jesus over to Pilate. And it was Caiaphas who ordered his followers to cry out for Jesus' persecution.

It wasn't Pilate.
And it wasn't Judas.

Yes, Pilate and Judas certainly participated, both reluctantly. But the driving force of the operation to murder Jesus was Caiaphas.

We see that Pilate had some authority in this situation, but his hand was being forced. If he released Jesus he faced an uprising from the Jewish leaders. And he also faced losing his position completely if things got out of hand. This is reflected with this verse that followed:
When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid.. (John 19:8)
This points to Caiaphas as the driving force for Jesus' persecution. But we must be careful not to blame an entire race of people or an entire religion. This would be wrong. Jesus, in fact, followed those Jewish teachers before him such as Moses and David. And Jesus also preached among the Jewish temples, and was even called "rabbi" by many.

Yes, Jesus certainly fell into the category of being a Jew just as was Caiaphas. At least their physical bodies. Of course, Jesus was not his physical body. But the point is that it would be complete nonsense to blame either the Jewish people or the religion as being responsible for Jesus' persecution.

It was, in fact, the product of a singular issue: envy.

Caiaphus was envious of Jesus


This is the reality of the situation. Caiaphus was appointed to the position of high priest because he wanted that honor of being the religious leader of the Jewish religion. This was certainly so important to Caiaphus that he could not accept the possibility that Jesus was gaining so much attention, and followers.

Caiaphas was envious of Jesus because he wanted to be the big leader.

Thus we can blame the quest for power, made available through the means of gaining authority* within institutional sectarian religious institutions.

In fact, this ability to abuse authority and use the position as a religious leader to do evil is inherent within any ecclesiastical religious institution.

The word "ecclesiastical" relates to the appointment or election of a religious leader or teacher, through politics or councils of people - or even through singular appointment by a predecessor.

This type of election or selection process is wrought with abuse because it is ultimately a political process. When people choose who is to supposedly be God's representative, they make choices based upon physical attributes rather than spiritual attributes. This is because most people have no spiritual vision. So they choose someone who appears to be religious, or who has the right degrees or has a great resume.

These are all things that can be gained without any spiritual authority. A person may, for example, pass all the seminary classes, and pass all the tests through memorization of scripture. Yet they may truly understand none of it. They may be able to recite all the prayers and drone on in their sermons what they heard their own priest say, but they still may not be spiritually advanced.

In other words, they may not have a relationship with the Supreme Being. And thus they will not be representing Him.

Preaching in exchange for compensation prevents such a person from representing the Supreme Being. They are performing a service in exchange for compensation, and they must please those who pay their salaries in order to keep their positions. One cannot please those paying their salaries and please God at the same time.

This is why Jesus said:
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13)
While the word translated to "money" - μαμωνᾶς (mamōnas) - can also be translated to "wealth" or "mammon" - materialism - these are represented by money when one is working for a self-centered purpose.

Mammon is also material power as well as money


Being in charge or having power over others is also part of mammon. It is indeed the central part.

Power, or even money, can either be used to serve the Supreme Being or used to serve oneself.

But the point of Jesus' statement is that a person cannot be proposing to serve God while that person is working for another form of power. The power to achieve God's purpose. The power to please God. Power and money are aligned.

For this reason, being paid to serve God is an oxymoron. The two are mutually exclusive, because being compensated for service is inconsistent with loving service to God. It is for this reason that being a professional teacher runs contrary to being God's servant.

We might compare it to two people getting married. If a woman was offered a million dollars to marry the man then the man will be disgusted with such a situation. He would certainly understand the woman wasn't marrying him for love - but rather, the money. And the only way the woman could release herself from marrying him for the money would be to reject the money and marry the man anyway.

We can see from Jesus' own life and teachings that he never received compensation for his preaching, and never specifically appointed or set up a process to appoint the next teacher. Rather, he instructed all his students to go out and pass on his teachings. For example, in Luke he instructs 72 of his disciples to go to towns and villages throughout the region passing on his teachings (Luke 10:1-10). Could there have been a political appointment of 72 people? Hardly. Jesus was sending anyone who was following him who was fit for traveling and preaching.

And not only did Jesus forbid their receiving money for their preaching, but he forbade them from moving to better quarters once their preaching began.

Notice also that Jesus did not set up an ecclesiastical organization. Neither did he set up a hierarchy of appointments as the ecclesiastical sectarian institutions have done. Is this a coincidence? Was Jesus simply not a very good organizer?

Don't be ridiculous. Jesus didn't set up an institution because he understood how they would be abused. Rather, he simply surrounded himself with those who put forth strong efforts to follow his instructions. Yes, certain disciples had skills that were used - for example arranging for a place to stay in a village - but there was no hierarchy. No organization to abuse. And no compensation involved.

And certainly, Jesus accepted the gifts of others given freely, including a place to stay and food. But these were given freely and never demanded. There was never a contractual arrangement or a quid pro quo involved.

As soon as there is, there can be no service rendered. The service is being compensated.

And since ecclesiastical religious institutions are specifically set up to compensate their teachers and leaders, and glorify those who hold the positions of authority - they attract those who abuse those positions.

And this is precisely what occurred with the Jewish high priest - Caiaphas - who was threatened by Jesus' real authority. Because Caiaphas was pretending to be God's representative, and he needed to continue this facade in order the maintain his position of authority, he was threatened by the reality that Jesus was really representing the Supreme Being.

Thus we can say that the reason Jesus was crucified was that his representation of God threatened the authority of the ecclesiastical religious institution leadership.

But we also see here that the Supreme Being ultimately grants anyone their authority. Jesus says here to Pilate, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above." This means that even that power theoretically given by men is still ultimately being granted by the Supreme Being. This is because the Supreme Being has ultimate authority over everything. And if we desire self-centered authority, the Supreme Being will grant it in one respect or another.

Why does God allow people to wield power?


Why does God grant the self-centered desire for authority? Because He is allowing us to play out our self-centered fantasies. He is allowing us this virtual landscape of the temporary physical world to pretend that we have authority. Whether it is having authority over people in the form of being a boss, or being a business tycoon, or a politician, parent or even an ecclesiastical priest or preacher, the Supreme Being is ultimately allowing us to play out our quest for authority.

Yet as Jesus indicates here, there are consequences for our use of our self-centered authority.

The true representative of God ignores ecclesiastical authority. Why? Because God's representative is focused on pleasing the one he loves - the Supreme Being. This is communicated by Jesus clearly:
"The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him." (John 8:29)
Jesus is speaking of the Supreme Being, who not only sent Jesus, but stayed with him during his preaching. And we see that this (God staying with Jesus) is specifically connected to Jesus' working to please God: "for I always do what pleases Him."

Because Jesus was working to please the One he loves - the Supreme Being - God remained with Him. This allowed Jesus to speak on behalf of God. This gave Jesus the authority to represent His Beloved Supreme Being. And what did Jesus do with that authority? He taught us to love and serve God:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

*Here is the translation of this verse from the Gospels of Jesus:
“You would have no authority over me unless it had been granted to you from the realm above. For this reason, those who delivered me to you have committed the greatest offense.” (John 19:11)