Monday, April 18, 2011

John 18:28-19:16

What is Pilate to do with this group who are adamant that Jesus be crucified? The Jews were unable to hand down capital punishment as an official verdict and yet the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead. He was causing too much unrest among their people.

It is interesting to note that the Jewish leaders would not even enter the Roman Palace because to do so would cause them to be ceremonially unclean on the day of preparation for the Passover. Once again, the leaders are much more concerned with the law, than with grace or mercy. They do not understand that God has sent Jesus to teach them a radical new way of thinking – that God loves us and wants to be in relationship with us without our needing to fulfill all the formal ceremonial trappings of sacrifice and penance. Pilate knows that Jesus has committed no crime under Roman law and tries to convince the Jewish leaders to let Jesus go, but they are adamant that Jesus must die. Even, Pilate, a pagan governor who is meeting Jesus for the first time knows that there is something special about this man and he is fearful of taking action against him. Pilate has Jesus beaten, hoping that will satisfy the religious leaders but it doesn’t. Finally, Pilate tells them that it is in their hands after they back him into an untenable position of putting to death a man who claims to be the Son of God or being killed himself for committing treason against Caesar.

Our lives are full of difficult choices. Peter, in yesterday’s reading, and Pilate in today’s reading are both faced with the choice of denying God and remaining safe on Earth or choosing eternity and losing their earthly existence.

These are hard choices to make. While our choices may sadden God, he will always still love us. My question to you this morning is knowing that God will take care of you and your loved ones no matter what happens on earth, what will you choose when put in a situation where you have to choose between the temporary and the eternal?

Father God, we know that you will take care of us but we confess that we are weak and fearful. Forgive us for our inability to stand up for you in small ways, let alone in ways that might cost us dearly in this world. Strengthen our faith when we are weak and help us to forgive ourselves when we fail you in this world. Amen.