1 When it was morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. 2 They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. (27:1-2)
At the conclusion of their all-night hearing the religious authorities must now find a way of having their verdict implemented. The death penalty could be imposed only by order of the Roman governor and a charge of ‘blasphemy’ would carry no weight with him. It was therefore necessary that the elder took counsel over an appropriate charge, and also, no doubt, over appropriate persuasive tactics. They could not expect an easy time of it, as Pilate the governor (ad 26–36; his official title was ‘praefectus’) was notorious for his obstinacy in refusing to accommodate to Jewish prejudices, his portrait in non-Christian Jewish sources being considerably less flattering than that in the Gospels (See Josephus, Ant. xviii. 55–62, 85–89).