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Lent - Day 26

Day 26  Thursday



That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1: 3).


Matthew 27: 11-26
Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.


Pontius Pilate held his position as Governor of Judea from AD 26 to 36. His job was to keep the peace. To pacify the occupied nation of the Jews under the enforced peace of the Roman Empire. Pilate represented the rule of Caesar, the Roman Emperor. Pilate represented the Powers-That-Be.  
Pilate is also a symbol of all the rulers in every place who insist that they make the rules. Pilate represents all the powers and people that tell us, “Reality is what I make it to be. It’s my world, and you’re just living in it.” From insurance companies to bureaucrats to school administrations to those who keep the social gates. Pilate is the way the world is. Jesus suffered under Pilate. That means Jesus came under the control of the powers that claimed to rule the world. 
But in this encounter, while Pilate holds all the military and political power, the rabbi from Nazareth seems astonishingly in control. Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews. Jesus’ enigmatic literal reply was, “You say.” Then he went silent before every other accusation.
This raises questions. How do authorities usually react to ambivalent replies? To answers that seem to imply impertinence? What amazes Pilate about Jesus declining to answer any charges? What parts of this passage give us the idea that Pilate is getting unnerved by Jesus? 
What does washing his hands symbolize for Pilate? Compare this scene with Lady Macbeth famously wringing her hands saying, “Out, out damned spot!” How does Pilate’s attempt to be done with responsibility a futile gesture?
The crowd roared at Pilate, “His blood be on us and on our children!” What chills you in that demand? What is the twist in the fulfillment of their request?


Imagine Pilate speaking that night to his wife, who had urged him to have nothing to do with Jesus. Suppose she let him vent his doubts and fears.
Did I do the right thing? 
He was like no man I have ever seen.
Every man has fears.
But I could find none in him.
Whatever fears were his, he had already faced them.
He tried on the worst and accepted it—and it wasn’t me.
I held no threat to him after what he had been through. 
But I couldn’t figure out what that was.
I couldn’t find a way to take him back to fear.
For all my guards, I felt as if he could have walked out at any time, and no one could have stopped him.
But he didn’t. He showed no impulse to escape.
He spoke to me as if he were from another world.
He seemed to offer me a way of escape, a different world,
A different emperor. The true Sovereign.
But of course I couldn’t ask him. 
I couldn’t change allegiance, not now. 
He was like no man I had ever seen.
My helpless prisoner who was in total control of all things. 
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name (John 20: 31).




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