28 Then they lead Jesus from Caiaphas to the Praetorian. It was early morning. They did not go into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover.
The Praetorium was the palace and dwelling place of Roman governors. It is a word that is translated differently in various versions: the hall of judgement, palace, Roman headquarters, Roman governor’s residence, common hall.
Originally the word referred to the tent of a Roman praetor or general; meaning the headquarters of a Roman camp.
In Jerusalem this was the home of Pilate and the political centre of Roman occupation in Jerusalem and Judea. As such the Jews regarded it as the home of a Gentile, and to enter it would mean defiling themselves. They had already made themselves ceremonially clean in preparation for the Passover. Therefore, their concern was that they should keep themselves pure by not entering into Pilates’ home.
There is some irony in the comment of John in that they concerned themselves with maintaining their own purity, whilst at the same time they sought to gain the death penalty for Jesus who was totally pure and knew no sin.
Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and to do that He had to rub shoulders with all kinds of people. In healing lepers He touched some of them. Likewise for us we must not be aloof from the world, but we must also rub shoulders with all kinds of people so that they may see Jesus in us.
The Romans did allow the Jews a certain amount of ‘home rule’, but they did not have the power to sentence anyone to death. That sentence could only be passed by the Romans.
The Jews seemed to have overlooked this when they stoned Stephen to death – Acts 7. He was stoned to death as laid down in the Law:
Anyone who blasphemes the LORD’S name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel – Leviticus 24.16 (NLT).
W Barclay makes the point that Jesus had prophesied He would die by being ‘lifted up’ (“And if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” – John 12.32). This meant He had to die a Roman death of crucifixion and not a Jewish death by stoning. Perhaps in this we can see that Jesus was dying for the whole world and not just the Jewish nation.