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Mar 18, 2018

Peter and Pilate

Peter and Pilate

Passage: Mark 14:66-15:47

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Lent & Easter

Category: Lent

Keywords: peter, pilate

Thanks be to God that the risen Christ comes to us with forgiveness and new opportunities of faithfulness.

Devotional

"Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?" asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. "What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?" Pilate asked them. "Crucify him!" they shouted. "Why? What crime has he committed?" asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, "Crucify him!" Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. -Mark 15:9-15

Growing up as a middle child, I very much wanted to reject the stereotypes of sibling order, especially the one that indicated that the middle child was a people pleaser, a conflict avoider and an always-willing-to-compromise peace maker. 

Here was the problem. I was too much of a people pleaser, conflict avoider and peace maker to argue against it. *Sigh* 

In considering the role of the Roman governor, Pilate, in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, we find that there are many opinions among Biblical scholars as to the level of his guilt or innocence in the eventual suffering and death of Christ. However, the one I most readily and shamefully identify with is that which portrays him as lacking the courage to stand up to the crowd even while knowing that Jesus was innocent of any crime. In the end, of course, we know that Jesus ultimately took all of the suffering of His own accord. . . an act of sacrifice set in motion years and years before by God, prophesied countless times in the Old Testament and graciously, mercifully given so that you and I might have eternal life. 

Still, I consider that no matter that we know this plan was to be carried out exactly as the Father intended, there is not one person, not one event, not one word, in fact, included in the Bible that is not there to teach us something of ourselves. So, then, what do Pilate's actions or ultimate lack thereof teach us? Well, at least for me, unfortunately, when I think of him, I often feel I could be staring in a mirror. In looking back over my tendency to please everyone at any cost, I cannot deny that I can see myself in Pilate, no matter how desperately I would like to argue against it. 

I've long been known to be a conflict avoider. My husband, in fact, once nicknamed me "Widespread Panic", so great are the lengths at which I will go to flee the discomfort of an argument. I can't even watch reality tv due to the stomach churning that cat fights and disagreements cause me. How often as I look back on my life, have I avoided standing up for something that I knew to be right in order to be sure I was well liked by the majority? How often have I excused myself from taking sides in an argument to avoid the discomfort of knowing someone might find fault with me? 

In Mark 15:15 we read these words: "Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate release Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged and handed him over to be crucified." (emphasis mine) 

This one sentence makes me weep in frustration at the missed opportunity presented to Pilate and at the same time, convicts me of what I know would likely have been my own lack of courage in the face of injustice. I would love to tell you that I would have been braver than Pilate, more decisive, more sure, more challenging in the face of the mocking, demanding crowd. I don't know that, but  I do know this: I would not have been able to stand up to them on my own. I would not and cannot do anything difficult that He has asked me to do without His power in me. 

Fortunately, we believers, have the Holy Spirit available to us now. When faced with something hard, something that takes bravery that we do not have on our own, might we imagine ourselves as Pilate? Can we picture our cowardly hearts staring the One that gives us that courage directly in the face? Might we fall to our knees and beg Him forgiveness for our complacency, for our lack of will to fight the good fight? Might we ask the innocent man who stands accused to lend us an iota of His fearlessness, His conviction, and His faith in the One who defends us to the end? Might we boldly become who Pilate could not be that day so long ago? Today, as we see injustice and brokenness surrounding us, let us beg the Holy Spirit to fill us with His courage, so that we might show the world that we will fight for all of His people whenever and wherever He asks to do so.

Prayer:

Courageous, brave, innocent Savior. Forgive us when we fail to stand up to the scornful crowd when we know that injustice abounds. Send us Your courage, Your commitment and Your faith. Let us know that with Your spirit in us we can be brave enough to do Your work even in the face of an enemy who mocks us. Amen.

Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.