19:4 "Pilate then went out again, and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him. 5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”
6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him.”
7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid..."
Pilate, you are not making any sense. You deemed Jesus innocent but you had Him beaten. You declared Him innocent to the crowd but had a crown of thorns put on His head and gave Him a mocking royal robe to wear and introduced Him as the King of the Jews, an act sure to work up the dark side of the crowd. They want nothing less than His death and you give Him to them to kill Him attempting to wash your hands of any guilt by again affirming His innocence.
The Jews can't legally kill Him and you know it so finally they blurt out the real issue they have with Jesus. He claims to be the Son of the Father. How do you react to this revelation? Fear. What are you afraid of Pilate? You are not a Jew remember. Their religious issues and quirks have nothing to do with you so what are you so afraid of?
Who is Pilate in this story anyway? Who does he represent? Who can relate to him? What can we learn from him?
May I suggest he primarily represents the skeptics? He is outside the religious drama/quagmire which has embroiled the nation. He was not waiting for a Messiah. Pilate has only two things he is waiting for. A raise in pay and/or a promotion. He is climbing the ladder. His religion is success defined by self advancement. At first this whole ordeal was just an annoyance that came with the territory of being governor. Jesus was certainly not the first religious upstart the Jews had brought him. He was about to kill three others today before they brought this fourth one.
So why is he now afraid? Why is he trying so hard to distance himself from the whole thing? What has made this anything more than a routine gavel slamming case?
One word: Jesus.
Jesus is the difference. Pilate has never met anyone like Him. His ways, His words, His mere presence is almost other worldly. He is nothing like the other faceless litany of criminals that have passed this way before. The crowd is different too. They are more worked up than he has ever seen, possessed almost.
Jesus is the Light that lights every man that comes into the world. Every man. That includes secular skeptic Pilate. There is something different about this Stranger from Nazareth and Pilate can see it. More than that he can sense it.
In a lapse of judgment he figured he could just appease their blood thirst a little by beating Him and then reason would prevail and he could release this Stranger. It didn't work. The taste for blood just intensified and now Pilate is terrified. There seems no way out now...
Two lessons jump out at me:
1, Even skeptics encounter Jesus and when they do they can't just shake it off. Pilate had no idea this encounter was coming. We never do know what a day will bring but Today if you hear His Voice do not harden your heart...
2, Appeasing people who are in the wrong does not appease them. From kids crying for a cookie to mobs screaming to get their way, leaders can't afford to waffle or play games. Like Jesus said "Let your yes be yes and your no be no."
See you tomorrow.