“So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will” (Luke 23:24-25).
In 1 Samuel we read more about David’s struggle to stay alive. Time and again King Saul is right at his doorstep, and yet, time and again, God places Saul in David’s hands. It’s as if He’s asking David how he’ll respond, if he will return evil for evil and kill this King who so wants to kill David. But David doesn’t give in. Even now he respects the anointed one of God, the king of Israel, and doesn’t harm a hair on his head. Instead, he confronts Saul, time and a again, and asks him why he’s so bent on killing David. Back and forth the two of them go, in a seemingly never-ending hunt. I know that Saul doesn’t succeed in killing David. But later in history, the Jewish people do succeed in killing Jesus. They, like Saul, were jealous of this man after God’s own heart. They despised and rejected this man who claimed to be the King of Kings. And so, very shortly, they’ll put him death. Today, in Luke 23, we read the rest of the trial of Jesus. In this trial Pilate and Herod find Jesus innocent of any need to be crucified, but the Jewish people are out for blood. They will stop at nothing less than crucifixion. And so, Pilate finally relents and hands Jesus back to the people to be killed.
I’ve always wondered if Pilate felt any guilt in doing this. He had the political power to keep Jesus from death, but in the end he seemed most concerned with keeping the popular opinion in his favor, then in doing what was right. Did he regret his decision in the end? Did he ever come to see Jesus as the Messiah? Only God knows the answer to this. Perhaps I’ll be able to ask him someday.
Until then, I’m preparing for our reading of the crucifixion. It’s never pretty, but just the same, I’m always in wonder over the ultimate price Jesus paid for all of our sins.
What about you? What stuck out to you in today’s readings?