1 Kings 19-20 Luke 23:1-25
“But they continued to shout, demanding that Jesus be crucified. Their yelling became so loud that Pilate decided to give them what they wanted.” (Luke 23:23-24)
The trials of Jesus were tense. The Sanhedrin couldn’t get two liars to agree on anything but were able to obtain a guilty verdict because Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The only thing He said to Pilate came after Pilate asked if He were the King of the Jews. Paraphrased, He said: “Your words, not mine.” After that, He was silent. Pilate tried to evade responsibility for what happened next. He sent Jesus to Herod, which began a bromance between Herod and Pilate. He suggested to the Jews that He could free Jesus because of the custom of freeing a prisoner during Passover. The Jews must have thought Pilate was crazy. They’d brought Jesus to Pilate to have Him crucified, not so that Pilate could set Him free. In the end, they outshouted Pilate’s objections and he gave in, ordering the crucifixion before washing his hands of the matter.
Some might look at this story and absolve Pilate of guilt because he did all he could to avoid crucifying Jesus. He tried everything, right? No. He could have done the right thing and laughed the Jewish leaders out of the palace area. Students of history would note that this would have ended Pilate’s tenure because the resulting Jewish reaction would have caused Rome to act on yet another complaint from the Jews and banish Pilate. Pilate had to choose between self-preservation and doing the right thing. We run into these types of choices often, although without the same potential consequences that Pilate faced. We either do what we need to do to stay with the “in” group, or even our job, or we do the right thing and suffer the consequences an evil world has to offer. I’m ashamed to say that too often, I’ve made the same kind of choice Pilate made. Popularity was more important to me than obedience. I can say with full confidence that no matter how many times I’ve done that, though, God still loves and forgives me. For that, I’m extremely grateful.
Lord, it’s so much easier to follow popular opinion than to follow You and be obedient to Your word. Give me the courage and the strength to do the right thing as I journey through life.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.