I've recently been thinking about a favorite movie of mine, The Passion of the Christ (Gibson makes his point in an uncompromising fashion). I wonder why passion plays are sometimes/often used to whip up anti-Jewish sentiment. Jesus and his followers were Jewish. The Temple leaders were Jewish. As is usually the case, the rich and powerful successfully identified a threat to their cushy lifestyle, demonized the leader, and crushed those agitating for change.
The Romans, who ultimately had the responsibility of deciding whether the Crucifixion proceeded, were pagan invaders who took over the country and demanded tribute from both sides. Whether or not Pilate was 100% behind the Temple leaders, he decided keeping the peace was more important than stopping the Crucifixion.
In fact, if we accept that his hand was forced, that the Temple leaders were strong enough to force a rebellion, then this could easily be skilled political gamesmanship. Jesus's followers had less to lose, and were more radical, making them the most dangerous to the status quo. Pilate made the group with the most power happy, while crucifying the radical leader. The Temple leaders were unlikely to make waves after their needs had been met, and any backlash would be just as likely to be against them.
So, we can say that the followers of Jesus and followers of the Temple leaders were following God to some degree. Each side had reasons why they felt the other had strayed from the path. The peacekeepers were not, they were pagans, and a hostile foreign power. This might seem off-topic, but I'd like to challenge the idea that a desire for peace automatically indicates virtue. Sometimes it's just used to hide something truly repugnant, to give that something time to ferment, grow stronger, and wronger.