That Little Stage Inside Your Head

The reading for this section is found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 18-19.

After Jesus was tried by the Sanhedrin (the religious council), He was taken to the governor, the now infamous Pilate. This is the chronology of the events, as best as I can piece it together, based on the four Gospels (primarily John).

The narrative suggests that Pilate got quite a work out that day. In a few hours he paced back and forth in and out of the palace. He was defiant, sarcastic, scared, confrontational, surprised, intrigued, etc. — the whole gambit of emotions for a highly complex but utterly flawed man.

The religious leaders arrive, early hours of the morning. “… Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor.”

Out to meet the religious leaders. “What is your charge against this man?”

Inside his headquarters  to interrogate Jesus.  “What is truth?”

Out to inform the religious leaders Jesus was not guilty. “He is not guilty of any crime.”

(At this point, upon hearing that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who examined Him, found Him “not guilty,” and sent Him back to Pilate).

Inside to order Jesus to be flogged. Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip.”

Out to tell people again he finds Jesus not guilty. “… understand clearly that I find him not guilty.”

Inside to interrogate Jesus one more time. Tried to release Him. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?”

Out, sat down at the judgment seat to present Jesus as the King of the Jews. “Look, here is the man!” While sitting there, he receives a message from his wife, telling him to “leave this innocent man alone.” 

Pilate delivers Jesus to be crucified. “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” As he washed his hands in a bowl of water.

It’s 12 noon now. Darkness would soon descend upon the world.

It took about 7 hours of vacillation, pacing back and forth, trying to pass the bucket, playing the power card, etc., for Pilate to finally decide against his own conclusion that Jesus was innocent and sentence Him to die on the cross.

Two disgusting things stand out in this painful story which God turned into triumph:

1) The religious leaders were such sticklers for keeping every little aspect of the Law that they refused to go inside Pilate’s headquarters so they would not defile themselves (by being in a place where gentiles were present) and thus not be able to participate in the Passover which would start soon. Yet, they were not the least worried about condemning an innocent man to die.

Lesson: Excessive preoccupation with religious exteriors invariably leads to blindness about the things that really matter. It can lead to a “let’s save the trees but forget about the voiceless the millions who die every year in the name of ‘choice'” mindset.

2) Pilate committed two crimes — he went against his own conscience and he went against his wife’s wishes (the latter could have potentially been more costly to him). At the crucial hour of decision, he failed the test of leadership. Little did he know, but at that moment he was on the world stage.

Lesson: Don’t ever let your courage falter, even in a moment you may consider utterly insignificant, away from the spotlight and rather inconsequential to the affairs of others. There is a little space inside our head where life is enacted on a miniature stage and it is there that most of your battles will be won or lost. Do it right on that stage then you will never have to worry about whether the world is watching or not.

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade