Have you ever made a decision that you’ve regretted afterwards?
Pontius Pilate was an unpleasant man. He was a Roman prefect of Judea at the time of Jesus, and as such, was responsible for the area for the invading army. He demonstrated on several occasions that he didn’t really care about preserving local Jewish customs and put things in place that were offensive to Jewish people worshipping one God. If there was to be another uprising against him and the Romans, he would lose his job, as his job was in part to keep the peace and keep life ticking over.
And then Jesus comes along. He has been tried before the Jewish leaders, now they have led him to Pilate to make a final decision. Quite frankly, they are accusing him of a Jewish crime, that of claiming to be the Messiah (only really a crime if he wasn’t, and he was). Pilate couldn’t really have cared less about this, so they add to the charges that Jesus has been opposing paying of taxes (he wasn’t) and that he had been subverting the nation – undermining the leadership and attempt to overthrow it (again, not really).
Pilate still can’t see anything wrong with Jesus. He can see this is an innocent man. He’s not sure enough though, so sends him off to see Herod, who also has no basis for a charge – he is just curious about this man he has heard so much about.
But Pilate is afraid of the crowd. They want to see Jesus die, and they want the freedom-fighter/terrorist/rebel Barabbas released in his place. The guilty man, accused of rebellion and murder, was released, while the innocent, sinless Jesus was condemned to death. Jesus died so that the guilty could go free and be rescued – we are rescued from our sins by Jesus’ death.
Pilate knew there was nothing wrong with Jesus. He had done nothing wrong. And yet, because it was easy, because he didn’t really care enough, because he was tired, because he wanted to be firm (insert reason here), he condemned him to death. He was the one with the power to have stopped it all. But he let his feelings and fears get in the way, and so Jesus suffered.
Lord God, thank you that Jesus’ death means that we can be forgiven from our sins. Thank you for your great rescue plan. We pray for courage to do the right thing, even if it’s hard. Amen.
Where is God calling you to stand up and do the right thing today? Know that he will be with you in the process, even if it’s really hard.