And he [Pilate] answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. (Mark 15:9–10 ESV)
Mark paints an interesting picture of the interaction between Christ and Pilate as the governor of the province interrogates Jesus. What is Mark’s purpose here as we see the interaction between the pair? Was Mark’s concern merely to recount the facts as he understood them? Yes…and no.
Mark’s clear purpose as he writes about Jesus before Pilate is to make sure his readers (us!) understand that Jesus was innocent of all charges. We can be sure of this because Mark inserts a comment into his narrative so that we do not miss it. His comment is in vs. 10: For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up.
The charges against him, as Pilate understood, and as his accusers understood, and as we clearly understand when we read Mark’s version of the encounter, were false and brought only because of envy.
One person defines envy as an emotion that “occurs when a person lacks another’s superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it.” This was certainly true in the case of Jesus and the Jewish authorities, but the envy went even deeper than that because they understood that not only did his faithful ministry expose their own self-interest, but he was implying, indeed even stating that they were the exact opposite of what they claimed to be! In addition, because of their spiritual blindness, they could not see nor comprehend, that he was the Messiah.