Read John 18.
It was Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), a French philosopher and lawyer, who said, "Every country has the government it deserves." Reading this chapter, it is no wonder that the Sovereign God of heaven sent the Romans to control Israel during this time.
The men who held positions of spiritual leadership for the nation were divided. The liberal Sadducees cast aspersions on the Scriptures. The Pharisees preferred to adhere to their traditions more than the Scriptures. Both groups showed themselves to be filled with arrogance and mostly concerned with protecting what little power they had left. Surely, among the seventy in the council, there were some good men who believed in Jesus (Nicodemus and others John 12:41-43). But, on the whole the Sanhedrin proved to be an ungodly group to say the least.
When challenged with the truth of God's word and the truth personified in Jesus (John 14:6), they chose not only to reject what they heard but decided to kill the Messenger. In John 11:49-52, it was none other than the high priest himself who voiced the fear that unless they did something about Jesus the Romans would step in and take total control. They would lose everything. The high priest could have recognized his sin, repented, and led the nation in a spiritual reformation. Instead, he set out on a plan to murder Jesus. The plan is repeated in John 19:14.
Their common practice would have been to stone an evildoer to death, as they did Stephen in Acts 7. Unknowingly they were fulfilling the prophecies concerning the Messiah's death. Psalm 34:20, "He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken." Jesus said in John 3:14, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up." The Roman death penalty was carried out by crucifixion; lifted high on a cross.
Pilate found no guilt in Jesus, certainly not of a capital crime, and even offered the council a way out by releasing Jesus. But, instead, their evil hearts desired a well-known robber over the Son of God.
Jesus words to Pilate in verse 37 demand a personal response. The decision determines where a person will spend eternity. "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."