Daily Dose, March 16 — Lent

“So when Pilate saw that he could do nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and on our children!’ So, he released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:24-26)

Pontius Pilate governed Israel on behalf of Rome. He had the political authority and the necessary military personnel to keep the peace. His job was to keep the tax money flowing in and the trade flowing through the Hebrew colony. It was a pretty sweet gig. It was a short ride to the Mediterranean Sea, not far to the mountains of Lebanon, and Jerusalem was not a small-potatoes town. But Pilate was caught completely off guard the morning Caiaphas and his gang showed up at the governor’s mansion demanding Jesus’ death. Pilate hadn’t finished his morning cup of Joe when they came banging on his door. A quick reading of John’s gospel shows that he was ill prepared for the moment.

He shuffles from palace to porch several times as he tries his hand at negotiating with the Jewish leaders. No luck.

He tries talking with Jesus but that only gets Pilate even more wrapped around his own axil. Truth and heavenly-kingdom talk made no sense to a man with no interest in religion. Pilate instructed his soldiers to beat Jesus half to death, hoping to placate the angry Jewish leaders. No luck.

He offered Barabbas as a substitute for Jesus, but the crowd still shouted for Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate finally relented, in exasperation, and handed Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate declared himself to be innocent and tried to wash his hand of the entire matter as they led Jesus away.

We convict Pilate most every Sunday morning as we recite our creed. It’s meant to be a reminder that access to power is no substitute for backbone. -- Dr. Don Martin