Sympathising with Pilate
I have to admit that I’ve always had a soft spot for Pontius Pilate. He just comes across as being so very close to the truth about Jesus, so eager, almost desperate, to release Jesus.
But that’s just it: Pontius Pilate does everything he can to release Jesus of Nazareth short of actually releasing him!
It is a monstrous miscarriage of justice that Pilate perpetrates in sentencing Jesus to death. Three times he declares Christ innocent of blame in Luke’s gospel, yet he forsakes his own judgment and succumbs to the will of the mob.
Just before Easter last year I was told by the chaplaincy department of an Anglican school how they make the year 12 students write a paper for Christian studies on who they identify with most in the Crucifixion story. The vast majority say they relate to Pontius Pilate. In their own words they say they can see there’s something about this Jesus, and they think it’s probably all true, but in the end they’d rather just go along with the crowd.
I can only think that they, like most of us, fall into the trap of thinking that because we have to make a decision about Jesus somehow we stand in judgment over him. The truth of course is quite the opposite- He will return to judge us.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
In light of this coming judgment, we would do better to identify with the sinner Barabbas who is freed to live as Jesus dies in his place. It is only by the death and resurrection of Jesus that we will be able to withstand the coming judgment, receiving instead of justice the grace of his mercy and love, for “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”(2 Corinthians 5:21)