Today’s Reading: Matthew 27:2, 11-14, 19-25, 27-31; Mark 15:6-11, 20-22; Luke 23:1-2, 5-16, 18-25, 27-31; John 18:28-38, 40; 19:1-17
As the introduction points out, the Jews know right well that their request to kill Jesus will be refused – I suspect that the charge of calling Himself the Son of God would be treated like the courts of our land would treat it – “He’s a crazy man to think He is, that’s no charge for death – why are you so upset?!” So their deception changes the charge and their hypocrisy is outrageous – to think about not contaminating yourself when the blood of an innocent man (the Son of God in fact!) is on your hands!
Pilate tries to stick to the only charge which is a relevant charge – “Are you the king of the Jews?” But Pilate knows the truth of the matter, even though he asks the famous question, “What is truth?” Hopefully we will never find ourselves in the position of being challenged by unbelievers because of our double standards – “What is truth?” Jesus certainly gave him no reason to ask the question!
Somehow I feel a sense of pity for Pilate who thinks he has found a way out of his predicament by sending Jesus to Herod! But Jesus answers nothing (this has nothing to do with Herod!) and He is sent back again (after being ridiculed and mocked? – what justice!). When God holds someone in a responsible position – there’s no escaping responsibility! And history (I think?) tells us that he is deposed from responsibility later, because he can’t (or in this case – won’t) control the people and do what is right!
I feel a sense of sadness as Pilate is warned and knows what is right to do, but refuses to do it and to the end protests, “I find no fault in this man!” but allows himself to be overridden with the crowds and their leaders’ violent demands and crafty arguments! Go ahead Pilate, wash your hands (of responsibility!), but in a coming day when you stand before God, there will be no water to wash your hands – no excuses to make for not doing what is right! Although I too will stand before God, (not like Pilate at the Great White Throne!) but at the judgment seat of Christ, God Himself (or is it Jesus?) will sift through my life, and that which I have done that is not of His will – that will be burned up! – not me, but the things which were not of God – so the Scripture say in 1 Cor. 3:12-15. Although I will not be burned up, “I will suffer loss!” And I will be happy to be rid of the things which shame Him because I wasn’t responsible but I pray for the insight and the faithfulness now – like my Saviour, to steer a steady course in life and to be brave enough to do what is right (IN HIS SIGHT)! (especially if He puts me in a position of responsibility!).
Somehow my heart finds it hard to accept the fact that my precious Saviour is pronounced not guilty, yet in Pilate’s great frustration, he mocks Him (& earlier, flogs Him!). Is it any wonder that the women who usually have more compassion than men, weep, but Jesus’ compassion sees the suffering and hurt which will come from the rejection of Him and directs them to weep for their own selves – and some of this suffering is still to come for the Jews!
Good to end up with the story of Simon from Cyrene, forced to carry Jesus’ cross. Tradition has it (not the Bible) that he later believed and then what a privilege that must have seemed to him to have carried Jesus’ cross! And so I too, who so often avoid carrying Jesus’ cross (or my own?), in Heaven will look back to life here on earth and be filled with a sense of joy that the few times that I have been enabled to do so – even I, too have sometimes carried Jesus’ cross in acknowledging Him as my Lord and done His will here as He did His own Father’s will and glorified Him. Lord Jesus, how beautiful You are in Your faithfulness and love – not only to Your Heavenly Father first, but in loving even me! There’s a hymn which says,
“Even now we praise the grace divine,
The love that shines in Thee;
The rich One Thou – for us made poor,
By death to set us free.”