The Word This Week

Matt 27:11…

Caught between a Rock and a hard place.

Pontius Pilate is one of the great tragic figures in all of human history. He has been caught up in a series of events he never anticipated and was not equipped to deal with.

Being manipulated is one of the most uncomfortable places we ever find ourselves in. Escaping manipulation is very difficult, especially for a political leader or ruler. As a ruler you’d just like to say, “Be done with this, I’m having nothing to do with you!” But as a political leader many times those opportunities do not present themselves. For Pilate, this is one of those times.

It jumps off the page how much Pilate does not want to be where he is right now. He doesn’t want to be an overseer of the Jews, he doesn’t want to be in Jerusalem, he doesn’t want to be in Israel, he doesn’t want to be hearing these accusations from these Jewish Chief Priests and elders he despises, and he doesn’t want to pass judgment on a clearly innocent man.

If he finds this man innocent - as he clearly desires to do - the Jewish leaders will be incensed. They may possibly riot as they did on a previous occasion when they objected to Rome about Pilate’s entry into his position as governor of the territory in the first place. Pilate had been warned by Caligula to keep the peace at all costs or be deposed.

And so Pilate finds himself in vice from which either means of escape is personally distasteful. He must either consent to a decision he knows is clearly wrong – or he must suffer the consequences of going against the wishes of those he knows are manipulating him for evil selfish gain.

Can he escape his predicament by laying it off on the gathering crowd? Would they provide a way out of this? The problem is this crowd has been manipulated as well – as Pilate recognized once he made his appeal to them. Even his wife tried to throw Pilate a lifeline, but to no avail.

It seems his only way out now was to wash his hands of the decision he is forced to make. He would have everyone make he does not agree with anything that is about to happen, and that the blood of Jesus would be on their hands not his, which they readily and joyfully agree to.

But washing your hands can never absolve you of the guilt of murder by the consent of the murderers.

Pastor Bill