Monday, March 25, 2013

Lent: Pontius Pilate

Matthew 27:11-26
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Pilate was given a position of authority in Judea, but when confronted with the Jews' insistence on crucifying Jesus he didn't want to accept the responsibility for His death. Unfortunately for him, his authority never extended that far: we are ALL responsible for Christ' death. He chose to become a man, he chose to suffer incredible pain, he chose to die through cruel crucifixion out of love for each one of us. It was our sins, small and large, that created the need for a Savior so it is our fault that He died as He did. Pilate would be responsible even if he had no part in the actual judgement and condemnation.
Yet Pilate is responsible in another way. Despite his position of authority he gave into fear over the response of the people and condemned an innocent man to death. How many people throughout the ages, both Christian saints and secular heroes, have chosen to suffer and die rather than commit an act they knew to be terribly wrong. Pilate clearly saw that the Jews' accusation was unjust. He saw that Jesus should have been released. Yet he chose the path of cowardice, turning Him over to His enemies to die.
Our purpose here though is not to judge Pilate, condemning him for his action or his inaction. We learn from him as we reflect on our own lives and how we might imitate or avoid imitating his response. So the question to confront for yourself is how you will respond if given a choice between doing what is right and losing everything over that decision or giving in to pressure even if it means an innocent person is condemned to death because of your fear. This is a question to face privately. Only God, who already knows the truth in your heart, will be witness to your answer. Yet if the true answer isn't the one you'd like it to be, now is the time to change your character so your answer if ever confronted with a real martyrdom situation will be one you're proud to live or die with. Now is the time to strengthen your commitment to the Lord and to righteousness. Now is the time to make small sacrifices that will increase your ability in the unforeseeable future to make the ultimate sacrifice. Now is the time to admit to yourself how similar you are to Pilate and to take the steps to change, including begging the Lord to fill you with His grace and permit you to make the right choice if ever offered the opportunity to reject cowardice and suffer, even die, rather than commit a terrible wrongdoing.

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