Posts Tagged ‘Pilate’

Pilate washes handsWhether it was sending Jesus cross town to Herod (since Jesus was a Nazarene and in Herod’s district) or offering the crowd an opportunity to voice vote and release Jesus or just washing his hands of the entire event or sending a guard to seal the tomb of Jesus’s internment, Pilate did everything he could to avoid responsibility for Jesus’s death. Whatever happened, whatever Pilate had heard or feared, he did not want the buck to stop anywhere close to him. He was the consummate politician.

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” [Matthew 17:24, NIV]

not my faultProtecting ourselves from blame is a very common and contemporary habit. So often, people want to lay the cause for their troubles elsewhere, whether it’s their parents, their environment, or their limitations. If only, they think, if only things would have been different, I could have succeeded.

I heard someone say, just yesterday, “every time I try to do the right thing, it goes wrong for me.” As though the very act of doing “right” brings about doom and gloom. For them, living life is one streak of bad luck after another.

hard roadBut this is not the way of God. There are some paths that must be walked whether they are difficult or not. Jesus could have avoided crucifixion if he really wanted to; he had the power to escape. But for the sake of humanity and the fulfillment of prophecy, this was the way he had to go. Even his disciples dried to stop him and Jesus rebuked them.

God does not promise an easy road, merely that we will not have to walk it alone.

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2000 years ago, mediation was advocated and encouraged, particularly among believers. And yet, where are we today? Courts are filled, lawyers plea bargain, guilty people go free, innocent people are executed, and those who should be a light in a dark place are silent and dull.

I Corinthians 6:5b
Can it be that there really is not one man among you who [in action is governed by piety and integrity and] is wise and competent enough to decide [the private grievances, disputes, and quarrels] between members of the brotherhood . . .

Where is the accumulated wisdom of the years? Why are believers of today seemingly less capable to handle disputes?

Part of the problem is that we are in too many silos (a business and information management term that refers to systems that cannot speak to each other). Our churches are silos. We are primarily divided by our denominational preferences. It is next to impossible to cross these arbitrary boundaries to create a trusted body of authority. Our efforts to date include organizations like the World Council of Churches which is disdained by most conservatives. In fact, as soon as the word “ecumenical” is brought up in conservative circles, the eyes glaze over. In many minds, ecumenical might as well be another word for “non-believer.” I know, I’ve been in that circle for your years (but no longer feeling quite so comfortable there).

Oh, there’s the National Council of Churches USA. While American churches don’t participate much in the World Council, denominationally, they are well represented at the NCC. Here they work in broad strokes: advocacy, resource building, communication, education initiatives, and academic research.

But nothing is really here for the resolution of disputes and grievances, nothing for mediation. That kind of authority would have to be given by the people. That kind of authority would require trust.

In our contemporary church, the doling out of “justice” has been handed over to Pilate. We are no different from the Jews of Jesus’s time.

Mediation is becoming more popular in the secular world. People are being trained in this process. Believers have a real opportunity to step up and embrace this trend and use it within the body. This is not necessarily a role for pastors, although it could be. More importantly, it’s a role for the faithful, those committed to truth, to God, to the Christ, to prayer, and to the Holy Spirit: these could build a forum for justice.

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John 19:7
“We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.”

The gospel of John is all about identity. Is Jesus who he said he was or not? This is the ultimate question.

The priests who brought Jesus before Pilate were very clear about his claims. They accused him of intentionally misleading people. They accused him of breaking the law, the law given to them from God through Moses and the prophets. They called him a liar.

There are really very few choices when confronting the identity of Jesus: either he is who he says he is, he’s stark raving mad, or he’s lying.

In today’s world, we don’t have anything similar. If a regular “Joe” was to claim he was God or just claim he was the President, all would assume he was crazy as a bedbug. Even if we determined the person was a consummate liar, his mental stability would be suspect. We don’t ever entertain the idea that he might be the “real deal.”

The priests were no different. There was simply no way that Jesus (of Nazareth) could be telling the truth, it had to be trick. From their perspective, the guy was a sinister, manipulative, liar who had duped the people by healing them, eating with them, feeding them, and teaching them about the kingdom of God being available to them… right from where they were. He was way outside their comfort zone. That couldn’t be God.

And isn’t that what many way today?

When I became a follower of Christ, I made it quite clear that I didn’t want to be a “Christian.” I had no good memories or experiences with the people who claimed to be his disciples. But I did see and believe in the One. And this is where my journey began, with my eyes on Christ alone. I trusted the rest would fall into place along the way. There were tons of things I couldn’t understand or agree with in scripture, but I could not call this Jesus a liar.

When I prayed that first prayer, there was no one leading the way. I simply asked Jesus if I could follow him and become more like him. I confessed. I believed he was who he said he was. That’s all. Because I knew, if that was true, then there was more truth to be uncovered. This is the way of Jesus… from truth to truth, from understanding to understanding.

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Mark 15:14-15
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

In the end, Pilate satisfied the crowd because it was easier. He had no fear of Jesus. He discounted the warnings of his wife. He viewed the whole matter as an inconvenience. He made a few lame attempts at releasing Jesus instead of Barabbas. And I’m sure he even knew it was the priests who were driving the crowd. But most of all, he knew Jesus was innocent. He took the path of least resistance. Truth was not essential.

Today, I read in Luke 21:34… “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life…” where Jesus warned the people that these things will prevent a person from recognizing the truth of events unfolding in the end times. A dissipated heart could be interpreted as a heart wasted away by misuse, drunkenness as “self-medication” and anxiety as fear of self-control (for in the end, anxiety occurs when we can’t control our circumstances). All of these prevent us from seeing the truth. And so, we take the easier path, just like Pilate. We have lost the ability to feel the pain of others, we run from our own pain, and we build walls around our world to keep out the messiness of life.

Today, I will seek courage for seeing truth and choosing the way of it. Today, I will exercise my heart, my mind, and my soul for the sake of Christ.

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