Archives for posts with tag: Pilate

The readings for this section are found in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 18-19.

Mockery of the Highest Order

The crown, the purple robe, the chants of “hail to the king,” they would be funny if they had not been accompanied by the 39 lashes with the leather whip tipped with bones (or metal).

Pilate used Jesus to make peace with Herod, but He also used Jesus to mock the Jews. He wanted to get closer to Herod but as far away from the Jews as he could. In allowing the guards to treat Jesus with violence and contempt, his goal was to humiliate those who thought themselves so superior they couldn’t even approach a gentile before Passover.

Pilate had Jesus beaten and ridiculed, then presented the one who harmed no one, now the disfigured Messiah, as their “king.” Thus he made Jesus the king he thought the Jews deserved. Pilate’s contempt for the Jews was so visceral that he had to break Jesus and rob him of any semblance of decency before he went out and mockingly said, “Behold, your king!” As long as he taunted the Jews, Pilate didn’t care what happened to Jesus. Jesus was like a pawn in the hands of divorcees who hate each other, with one major difference — in this case, even the judge seemed to have turned against the innocent one in the middle.

But it was not out of cruelty that the Father turned His back on Jesus. Jesus Himself had spoken about how He was going to die: “‘And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.’ He said this to indicate how he was going to die.” (John 12:32-33). 

The fact that Jesus remained silent and took the blows was a testimony to His commitment to God’s plan of redemption for all of us. In Judaism, Jesus was practicing what is known as “anivut,” which had already been exhibited by Moses a long time before Jesus. “Anivut,” according to Rabbi Norman Lamm, is “a soft answer to a harsh challenge; silence in the face of abuse; graciousness when receiving honor; dignity in response to humiliation; restraint in the presence of provocation; forbearance and quiet calm when confronted with calumny and carping criticism.”  

Not a bad collection of attributes to hang somewhere visibly to remind you that the world doesn’t always belong to the strongest. Better yet, forget the hanging of words — just go and practice them.

But Jesus wasn’t simply being an “anivat” (“the humble one”). Not even the Son of God has the obligation to act nobly in the face of terrible injustices. As He reminded his hearers, He could have called ten thousand angels. But He didn’t. Instead, He subjected His will to the will of His Father and was willing to absorb the blows to His body, the spitting on His face, and the blasphemy of despicable, debasing words uttered in the presence of the divine. And He did all of that so His Father could declare those who turn to Him clean and forgiven. In other words, He went to the cross for you. What are you willing to do for Him?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

Jesus was bound and He took the 5th

The readings for this section are found in John 18:19-24 and Matthew 26:57-67.

They bound him and took him to the home of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the High Priest. There he was pressed to repeat the essence of what He had taught in over three years. But Jesus had bound his lips too. As a smart defense lawyer would do, he gave them nothing that could be used as evidence against Him. “Go do your own investigation,” He essentially told them. Not because there was any incriminating evidence, Jesus simply wanted to establish the fact that this was an illegal trial. Nothing He had done was in secret. He was in the public square every day. The trail of His words was long and the impact was broad. Grab somebody, anybody. If there is dirt, you will likely find something. That response, however, only got Jesus slapped across the face by one of the temple guards.

It was late night already. They had walked Jesus back into the city. He had been exhausted from the day before. He had agonized with blood in the garden. Now a different kind of blood would be exacted from His body. I often think what that guard who slapped Jesus may have thought afterwards when he heard that Jesus had risen from the dead. Was he afraid Jesus would take revenge? Or did He come to believe in Him as the Messiah? A slap across the face of God. How does it make one feel?

Next, bound again, they took Jesus to the home of Caiaphas, the one who had prophesied that it was necessary for one man to die for the sins of the whole nation. But did he know that he was going to have a hand in bringing that to pass?

An assembly of the Sanhedrin was called up in the middle of the night. You just have to wonder: were these men sleeping and had to be awakened or had they been tipped off that something was going to happen that night? This is way before the advent of cell phones. How did they gather the Council with such short notice? It seems to me that like gangsters they had picked that date. They were lurking in the shadows and waiting for the catch to fall in the net.

An illegal trial was quickly transacted. A mockery of justice. So badly jumbled that even the people they had hastily assembled to bear false witness against Christ were so bad they couldn’t use any of them. Finally, they had to try to catch Jesus at His own words. “Are you the Messiah?” Jesus responded with His own “Son of Man” shorthand for God. “Blasphemy!” the High Priest exclaimed, as he tore his robes. Honestly, this sounds like a horribly scripted second-rate movie. But the theatrics worked, bad acting and everything.

They fell upon Him, screaming, “He deserves to die!!!” and punching Him as one would their worse mortal enemy. In the dark perhaps anonymous hands flew in the direction of His holy face. The cowards who would not do it in broad day light, the small men who had had a bad day and were simply using Him as a punching bag, and the religious zealots who thought they were doing this for God. In a moment all of those forces came together against the Lord and His Anointed, like the Psalmist had predicted in Psalm 2, “… the rulers plot together against the Lord and against his anointed one. ‘Let us break their chains,’ they cry, ‘and free ourselves from slavery to God.”

And like a spurious jury in a dictatorial regime ruled by a military despot, in a few minutes, the Sanhedrin found Jesus worth of death. Death penalty was the verdict in the greatest miscarriage of justice ever to fall upon the annals of jurisprudence in the entire world.

And just as Jesus had entered the scene, bound and resigned to His appointment with suffering, without even the decency of rudimentary rights to a proper defense, Jesus was taken in the middle of the night to another trial, this time in the hands of the Romans who prided themselves in having invented the best judicial system known to man. Supposedly, He would find more able hands and more just minds as He entered the court of Caesar, but would He?

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade