Reading: John 18:1 to 19:42
The Jewish religious authorities are wise. They know their own laws inside out and use their own interpretation to build a case against Jesus. It is a flimsy case at best, which Pilate sees right through. They do not even state the laws Jesus ‘broke’ but instead remain vague. Pilate is sharp enough to realize that Jesus has not really committed any crimes. But he is also insecure and the Jewish leaders are well aware of this. They understand the political game and have seen the consequences of being against Caesar. So they play Jesus’ claim to be king against Pilate’s fear of Rome to force an execution.
Just as Caiaphas had earlier stated that it would be better for one man to die, Pilate maybe sees the current situation with Jesus this way too. Better for one man to die rather than the Jews and possibly the whole city to be in an uproar, to draw attention from Rome. Pilate’s guilt is easily set aside and Jesus helps by not defending Himself. This is why He came; He will not interfere with God’s plans either.
On this day when we remember the trial and crucifixion, let us also remember the message of the cross. Jesus, the perfect lamb, was willing to die for our sins. Nothing says “I love you” more than this. God, through Jesus, is all about love, relationship, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and restoration. This is the message we need to share with the world.
We must be careful to not be like the Jewish leaders, bending and picking and choosing the Law to meet our own needs. The Bible is vast and contains a wide array of ideas. We cannot pick out parts we like and ignore parts we do not like to manipulate others or to justify and rationalize ourselves. It is a whole story – the story of God’s redeeming love. It is a love letter from God to us all, inviting us into a deeply committed, loving relationship with Him. This is good news to share.