John 18:19-38; 2 Chronicles 27-28; Psalm 84
What happens to a man who becomes bitter in his job; jaded as he thinks of what might have been and cynical because he didn’t get the breaks he deserved? I think Pilate had these issues. He probably saw himself as bright young star in the Roman bureaucracy. He was headed for bigger and better things. Then, he got his appointment to Palestine.
Palestine was the Siberia of the Roman Empire. It was a backwater, end of the line appointment that let Pilate know he was on a career track to purgatory. He would have to deal with those stubborn, obstinate Jews who believed in one God and wouldn’t cooperate with Rome at all. This day was not unlike most when they came and waited outside for him to come to them as they brought another prisoner to him. Gaining what little enjoyment out of the encounter with Jesus that he could, he had a conversation that must have been slightly amusing to him.
“You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” Pilate asked. (John 18:37-38) The sarcasm must have been dripping as Pilate asked Jesus about his kingdom only to see the conversation turn bitter at the end as he dismissed Jesus and the idea of truth. Pilate, now bored with Jesus as well as broken and embittered by his Palestinian experience pronounced charges against Jesus as baseless…and yet, as we know from history, still sent Him to the cross.
As dreams are dashed, it’s easy to become Pilate. Pilate, who perhaps entered Roman service with an idealistic hope of helping keep Rome on the path of greatness had been beaten down so much that he couldn’t see truth or hope when he talked with Jesus face to face. There are many Pilates that we see every day. Our job is to find ways to meet the Pilates of this world and through a long process, show them truth, show them hope, show them Jesus. When we open that door for them, hope can be restored.
Lord God, in Pilate we see a man whose hopes and dreams were dashed by the world. In the world today we see many others who live without hopes and dreams. Thank You for the hope we have in Jesus. Help us to share that hope with all the Pilates of this world.