Two thousand years ago the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire were pagans. They worshiped gods — idols — fashioned by human hands. Among the Peoples of that day, the Romans were considered an honorable lot. So it is that even now we still respect Roman justice. Even though it was harsh, we regard it as being relatively fair, a step ahead of what might have expected from any other People from that time period.
Why harsh? Men of that era found it too easy to believe that might made right. Idol worship, worshiping gods fashioned after men, animals, planets — things drawn from our imagination — makes brutes of men. Only about a century and a half before the birth of Christ, in 146 BC, the Romans had conquered Carthage. Carthage too was a republic, but the way that people worshiped their gods included sacrificing some of their own children (Ancient Carthaginians really did sacrifice their children and Carthaginians sacrificed own children, archaeologists say).
What the Carthaginians worshiped was darker than most. Nevertheless, the Romans were a hard people, and history says Pontius Pilate was a hard man. Was he harden by what he had been taught to worship? Perhaps. Perhaps that’s why he asked Jesus the right question, but then without listening for an answer, walked away.
John 18:33-38 New King James Version (NKJV)
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.
Pilate found no fault, but he still ordered that Jesus be beaten and crucified. Even the Romans, because the Truth was not in their gods, did not respect the Truth, not even when He stood before them.