Silence and Stillness before God (2 minutes)
Now it was the governor’s custom each year during the Passover celebration to release one prisoner to the crowd—anyone they wanted. This year there was a notorious prisoner, a man named Barabbas. As the crowds gathered before Pilate’s house that morning, he asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you—Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” (He knew very well that the religious leaders had arrested Jesus out of envy.) Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” Meanwhile, the leading priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas to be released and for Jesus to be put to death. So the governor asked again, “Which of these two do you want me to release to you?”The crowd shouted back, “Barabbas!” Pilate responded, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”They shouted back, “Crucify him!” “Why?” Pilate demanded. “What crime has he committed?”But the mob roared even louder, “Crucify him!” Pilate saw that he wasn’t getting anywhere and that a riot was developing. So he sent for a bowl of water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood. The responsibility is yours!” And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death—we and our children!” So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.
If the Gospels were the only account of Pilate’s life we might conclude that he was spiritually discerning, able to identify the false accusations brought against Jesus, and desired to do the right thing. But the historical record describes Pilate otherwise. His constant political struggles made him cynical, uncaring, and susceptible to pressure. The Jewish leaders’ threat to inform the emperor that he couldn’t or wouldn’t eliminate a threat against Rome ultimately led him to make his fateful decision. He didn’t want to appear weak.
Something about Jesus unnerved Pilate. Perhaps more than his wife’s warning, it was because he couldn’t find anything within Jesus to exploit – so confident was Jesus in His understanding of who He was and the task He had come to fulfill. Jesus did not fear death. Jesus did not fear suffering. He possessed an authority that could not be bought nor beaten. He maintained an inner strength that others could not manipulate or intimidate.
Question to Consider
Am I easily frightened or intimidated by my circumstances or do I maintain internal confidence of who and what I am in Christ?
Dear Jesus, you have already embraced everything that I fear. I renounce fear’s hold on me. By God’s grace, I share Your victory.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)
The 40 days of decrease blogs have been inspired by the book “40 Days of Decrease” by Alicia Britt Chole.