Pilate: The Quintessential Christian

What is truth?  How do you know?  What makes you so sure?  Do you know what I can do to you?  I wash my hands.  I am innocent.

Pilate is the quintessential Christian.  He wants to know the truth but will not listen to the Truth, which both condemns and absolves him.  He wants to do right by all, but his ambitions and fears make him do wrong by all.  He lets sinners get away with sin even as he proclaims his innocence.  He tries to stand up for the innocent but ends up condemning the innocent and pardoning the guilty so that he won’t suffer.  Sound familiar? It does to me.  It did to Paul: the good I would do I do not do and the evil I don’t want to do, that I do.

We often use this saying of the Apostle in daily life, recognizing that we sin against God by what we have done and left undone.  We readily acknowledge that there are things we should and should not do and that we often do the opposite, even though most of the time – if not always – we speak in the abstract in order not to be too condemnatory of ourselves.  But Pilate wasn’t deciding whether to raise taxes or whether to invite his wife to dinner or whether to give charitable givings.  Pilate was dealing with the Christ of God.  The good he would do – be innocent of this Man’s blood – he did not do; and the bad he did not want to do – condemn an innocent man – he did.

Our chief good vs. evil is not in the things  of daily life, but before Jesus.

Why?  Because we think it’s about us.  Pilate thought this trial, this riot, this problem was about him.  He thought all eyes were on him.  He thought Rome was watching him to see how he’d handle the riot; he thought the Jews were watching him to see if he was on their side; he thought Jesus was depending on him to be just and fair; he thought he was the one that released Barabbas; he thought he was innocent of the blood of Jesus.  Pilate was wrong.  None of this was about him.  Finally Pilate gets it right.  When?  When he takes all eyes, including his own, off himself and directs them to Jesus, “Behold the man!”

We always think it’s about us.  What will people say of us? What will they do to us?  What will we gain by doing this or that?  We are wrong.  It’s not about us, not at all.  It’s about Jesus.


One Response

  1. Excellent post!

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