In one way I feel for Pilate. He is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place—angry mobs outside and a blistering conscience inside. And John tells us that the unfortunate man was more afraid than ever. When he signed up to be Rome’s newest government official, I bet he never imagined this moment would come with the job. Every option he has is terrible. Releasing Jesus would infuriate the mob but killing him would be unjust. The pressures of this situation and the responsibility he must face cause him to go back inside and question Jesus again. He starts with the most basic questions, which he had surely thought to ask prior to this point in the story. Is he searching for clues? Is he procrastinating? Is he trying to make sense of these baffling accusations?
When Jesus refuses to entertain Pilate’s foolish attempts to stall the decision, Pilate blows up at him. “Don’t you realize who you’re talking to? Answer me if you want to live!” But in truth, it is Pilate who doesn’t recognize who his conversation partner is. Pilate doesn’t know that he is speaking to the One who was with God at the creation of the world, the One with power over sin and death, the One who holds all things together. Jesus sets the record straight with compassion and mercy.
Jesus remains true to his character throughout his trial and suffering. He keeps his calm during intense pressure, leads people into a deeper understanding of God’s ways, and shows us how to trust in God in every circumstance. If only Pilate had paid attention and realized who he was he was talking to.
When have you been so stressed or afraid that you took it out on God? In what ways was God’s response compassionate?
God, forgive me for losing sight of you when I am overwhelmed and stressed out. Help me to trust you in all things. Amen.