19:15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus and led Him away.
Even though it's technically the wrong time of the year, this is the time when traditionally remember and celebrate the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. Jesus later said that the religious people of His day celebrated the great prophets of the past as well. Jesus went on to say that those prophets were rejected and many of them killed by their ancestors and they would have done the same had they been alive at the time. We tend to celebrate the past because it's removed from us. It's safe. It's not "in our face". Jesus used Himself as evidence for the fact that they would have killed the prophets because they were rejecting Him.
We can sit here comfortably separated by 2000 years from the horrible events we're reading about and we can sing 'Joy to the World' and 'O Come All Ye Faithful' but would it bring joy to our world if Jesus were here now? If He sang 'O Come All Yes Faithful' in our town would we come?
When Jesus was born there is little evidence anyone paid much attention. Some shepherds came because angels told them to. Some travelers from distant eastern lands came nearly two years later. Tradition calls them the three wise men but the truth is there were many more than three. A careful study even reveals who they were and where they came from. It's quite remarkable how far they traveled to find Him but what's more remarkable is what they found when they arrived. They literally risked their lives making the journey and when they arrived they did the politically polite and proper thing and went to the highest authority in the land to introduce themselves and explain their mission.
"We have come in search of Him who is born king of the Jews. We have seen His star in the east and we have come to worship Him" they said to Herod who was the acting king at the time placed in that position by the ruling Romans. Herod was perplexed. He knew nothing. Keep in mind Jesus is nearly two years old and living only a few miles away. Herod sent for the Jewish scholars. They came. They opened the Old Testament scrolls and through the clues written in various places by the prophets told these travel weary King seekers that they would find Him in Bethlehem. Herod told them to make a careful search for the boy and then let him know where He was so that "He might worship Him too."
We know how that went.
The bizarre part is why all the secrecy. Could angels really have visited shepherds and no one knew? Could a mysterious star that didn't belong in the night sky have gone unnoticed by those living so close? Could the very nation who was expecting the arrival of their own Messiah be so completely oblivious?
I'm a pastor and I can tell you news travels fast in a congregation and sometimes the pastor is the last to know. Something is happening here beyond what we're seeing on the surface. Herod did not know but you can be sure everyone else did. Herod was the king. Jesus was The King. Herod was ruthless, and insecure. We know from historians that he killed his own sons to preserve his power and position. That is the reason why no one told him about the baby in Bethlehem that just might be the One.
Fast forward 33 years and now the same Jesus who escaped the murderous hands of Herod has also escaped the power of Pilate... almost.
Pilate wanted to let Him go. Pilate intended to let Him go. Pilate tried to let Him go. What prevented him?
Politics is a convenient scape goat term we use to cover the real truth. What prevented Pilate from doing what he knew was right was self preservation. The same motive that drove Herod to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem. The same motive that drove the Jewish leadership of the past ages to kill the prophets. The same motive that pulled the words from the mouths of the chief priests "We have no king but Caesar".
The question is what drives our decision making?
Jesus said "Anyone who seeks to save his life will lose it but anyone who loses his life for My sake will find it."
God so loved He gave...
Are we like our God or like the father of lies? Do we do what we know is right or do we play politics?