Thursday, February 5, 2009

Luke, Chapter 23 part 1

Please excuse my pessimistic nature this morning. Life did not treat me well yesterday, I didn't sleep well, and then I read something like this section of Luke 23 and I lose all hope for humanity. Today we deal with the trial of Jesus. If it happened today it would be drawn out over months with round the clock coverage on all the news networks. It was the biggest thing in Jerusalem in its day, and as we see it is only part of the greatest event in human history. It also represents the depth that humanity can sink to.

One of the most interesting figures in this trial is Pilate. I have long had a conflicting view of him, and it is only magnified by the slightly sympathetic view that Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ puts forth. Whereas Herod found Jesus as a mere curiosity, Pilate seems to have been at least somewhat moved by His plight. We even see Pilate ready to let Jesus go because He had done nothing wrong, but Pilate succumbed to the whims of the crowd and turned Him over to be crucified in order to stop civil unrest.

13Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14and said to them, "You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16Therefore, I will punish him and then release him." – Luke 23:13-16

On the one hand I can see Pilate's plight. He wanted to avoid a scene and actually gave Jesus a fair trial. Likely knowing little of His life and thinking this was a local matter regarding a religion he barely knew or understood, he simply wanted to keep order. Remember, Pilate was the Roman authority. He came from an outside world and was governed by outside rules.

Still, he had the opportunity to take a stand and he failed. The other way of looking at it, however, is that someone had to condemn Jesus to die. How could we have salvation through His sacrifice if there was no sacrifice? Can we, therefore, not judge Pilate too harshly because someone had to play his role? This is especially true when he may not have known much about the situation before he was forced to get involved.

Where this becomes the most disgusting part in human history is that the Pharisees had completely lost touch with reality. They would rather have Barabbas, an insurrectionist and murderer, to be released instead of Jesus. I simply cannot fathom this. All of this stemmed from a disagreement and because the Pharisees refused to listen.

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