“What is truth?”  Pilate asked.  With this he went out again to the Jews and said,  “I find no basis for a charge against Him.  But it is your custom from me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover.  Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?”

They shouted back,  “No, not Him!  Give us Barabbas!”  Now Barabbas had taken part in a rebellion.  John 18:38-40.

It’s almost like Pilate asked his question about truth then went outside to illustrate to Jesus what it meant.  We cannot know Pilate’s motives for asking the Jews to choose, but we can deduce from his conclusion of Jesus’ innocence he didn’t think He deserved to die.  We can also deduce from the choice he laid before them he wanted to give them an option between the worst of the worst and innocence.  So he used Barabbas as a political decoy/scapegoat for his own powerlessness in this situation.

It’s nice to think that Pilate held all the power over the Jews in everything but the truth is a rioting crowd causes quite a bit of damage and creates trouble for the leadership.  Even if they squash the riot, their bosses eventually begin to wonder why those in charge can’t keep the political lid on the situation and start looking for a better person to fill the job description of ruler and diplomat.  Pilate was caught between this hard mountain of an inevitable backlash and the Jewish “rock” being thrown in his lap.  Stating his conclusion in public set the stage for Jesus’ possible release, but couldn’t guarantee it.  The fact that he even resisted their will at all, though, showed he held justice in some esteem, for if he were an outright evil man, he wouldn’t have cared and just signed the death warrant.

Pilate wasn’t your average ruler.  He’d been (from what little I know of his history) a soldier who worked his way up through the bureaucratic ranks, therefore he understood the business of being in charge from several viewpoints.  His history with the Jews showed he wasn’t afraid to take action when he deemed it necessary, for one such story tells that he stopped a riot by killing everyone in the streets until they all ran and hid.  He could be ruthless and hard as a magistrate, but in Jesus’ case (and therefore most likely in others) he showed a grasp of justice and mercy.

Something about Jesus struck him as different.  Isaiah claims there would be nothing about His physical appearance to attract us to or make us notice Him especially, so it must have been Jesus’ bearing.  Ever meet or see someone who just had presence?  They seem to take over the room no matter who else is there, dominating it by just standing around.  I think Jesus had this in spades and Pilate recognized it—he couldn’t help it.  Even if he didn’t believe Jesus was more than a mere man, he still saw the difference.

The question has been asked before:  When we are put on trial for our faith, will we be convicted of being like Jesus?

I want to be guilty of being not only a follower, but an imitator as well.  Right now, I’m not so brave as to stand courageous in the face of accusation,  “You’re with Him, aren’t you?  Hey!  You even act like ‘im!”  O, if challenged by confrontational methods where my self-worth is being knocked, I belligerently stand for Jesus, but where the pressure becomes more subtle I know I’ve been less than open.  What I desire is not to be defiantly Christian or Christlike, rather I’d like to stand for Him in a quietly firm manner with calm assurance, dedicated love and openly acknowledging the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I want to reflect without a rebellious attitude—at least one which reflects the norm of the world I’m leaving through Christ—and instead display the attitude of the Savior at His trial.  He did not get defensive or cop an attitude, nor did His stance show physical defiance with clenched fists.  No, His demeanor held calm assurance of His Father’s love and acceptance with a confidence in His own value because of it.

Pilate used a political escape switch to get out of a sticky situation—the end of which was inevitable from the start.  He couldn’t escape his responsibility nor the part he played in condemning Jesus, though, for by washing his hands of the guilt he stepped out of the way of what he saw coming at the hands of these men accusing Him.  If, by inaction, we refuse to rescue those being led away to slaughter, we become accomplices in their deaths.  Pilate might have thought his hands were clean, but his refusal to stand for what was right regardless of the consequences made him partly responsible for the scene which followed.

If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength?

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter.  If you say,  “But we knew nothing about this,”  does not He who weighs the heart perceive it?  Does not He who guards your life know it?  Will He not repay each person according to what he has done?

Pilate showed just how strong he thought he was by attempting to wash his hands of the whole affair.  By avoiding a riot, he set in motion his own doom, which means he later lost his job anyway because of these evil Jewish leaders.  His knowledge of the situation trumped his desire to stay out of it.  Precisely because they brought Jesus to him to be tried and convicted, he had a responsibility to stand in the gap—it was his job after all—and save Him.  His attempt to save Christ wouldn’t have been successful even if he had tried, but his soul would have been safe for eternity regarding the Son of God.


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2 Responses to “JurisPrudence”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    We’ll serve whoever we fear, man or God. It’s pretty clear who was served. We each encounter these types of tests. I pray we fear the Lord above all.

  2. jonnysoundsketch2 Says:


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