“Pilate then went out to them and said, ‘What accusation do you bring against this Man?’ They answered and said to him, ‘If He were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you.’” (John 18:29-30 NKJV)
After the Sanhedrin had convicted Jesus, they brought Him to Pilate. It’s interesting to note that while they had no problem concocting false evidence and suborning perjury in their attempts to convict Him, they wouldn’t enter the Roman Praetorium to bring Jesus to Pilate since that would make them “unclean.” So, Pilate came out, probably still rubbing the sleep out of his eyes and asked a simple question: “What did this guy do?” The Jews response was, paraphrased, “Dude, if we brought Him to you, He must be a bad guy.” Pilate tried to get rid of them by telling them to go judge Jesus. When they responded that He deserved death, then Pilate was forced to take action.
There’s a lot of subtext in this passage where it’s important to understand the history of Pilate’s relationship to the Jews, but what strikes me in this passage is the Jewish response that the very fact that they arrested and brought Jesus to Pilate should’ve been enough for him to know that Jesus was a bad guy. How often we make assumptions from accusations. Today, if someone makes an accusation against a public figure, the news will spread like wildfire on social media. The mainstream media will report that an accusation is making the rounds and it won’t be long before the whole world knows what a terrible person the accused is. Except then, the evidence comes out and the accused was innocent. The furor dies down, but there are no apologies, no vindication. And in the back of everyone’s mind is the haunting feeling that this person somehow got away with something, because the accusation was so bad there must have been some truth to it. As followers of Christ, we should avoid rushing to judgment on mere accusations. Wait for the evidence. Once the evidence is in, don’t fold to the whims of social pressure like Pilate did. Most of all, learn to love the accused (and the guilty) like God does.
Lord, we’re so quick to condemn people today on the basis of an accusation. Help us to see people through Your eyes and, whether guilty or innocent, show them Your love and grace.