Daily Reflections



Jesus and Pilate

READ  Matthew 27:11-26

If reading about Peter and Judas was unedifying, Pilate will certainly fail to raise the tone. Here we have a ruler caught up in prevarications, maneuvering and lies. Pilate comes straight to the point: is Jesus a political threat as king (11)? In answering Pilate, Jesus clearly understands such terms as “king” in a somewhat different way. Once again, however, He becomes silent (12), even when the great array of charges He faces is brought to His attention (13, 14)
Pilate is both opportunist and cowardly, and uses the custom of releasing a prisoner to throw the decision back upon the crowd (15-18). Of course, Barabbas is unworthy of any real comparison with Jesus. But once Pilate has surrendered the initiative and moral responsibility, things go from bad to worse. First his wife brings him a warning which is very difficult to quantify (19). (Dreams were usually taken very seriously as guidance in the ancient world.) Then a distinct preference for Barabbas is expressed by the crowd, manipulated, as crowds often are by their leaders (20, 21). This, of course, introduces another confusing dimension to the process of decision-making. Pilate’s second appeal to the crowd evokes nothing more than the cry that Jesus should be crucified (22).

The tragic climax comes with Pilate’s famous hand washing in front of the crowd (24). Neither of his accompanying statements impress or are even true. He is not innocent. And he is responsible. Pilate’s responsibility, though, does not detract from that of the people. Their thoughtless acceptance of guilt has echoed down through the centuries, as some Christians have used it unjustifiably as a pretext to persecute the Jews.




PRAY  Lord, help me truly to turn away from my old ways. Help me to seek
                the forgiveness of anyone I may have used selfishly.