The Customer Is Not Always Right

John 19:4 “Pilate came out again and said to them, ‘Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know I find no guilt in Him.’”

Observation: For forty verses Pilate was on stage as an integral player in John’s narrative leading to Christ’s crucifixion. These verses tell of Pilate’s role in questioning, scourging, and ultimately sentencing Jesus to die. Along the way he had moments of genuine exchange with Jesus, seeking to understand why Jewish leaders were so angry, and clarifying whether Jesus intended to threaten Roman rule by establishing a rival political kingdom. Pilate concluded that no valid threat to Rome existed, and that Jesus was guiltless. In fact, Pilate announced that conclusion twice, but he ordered Jesus scourged anyway and allowed the guard detail to horribly abuse Him.

Application: It is possible to read these forty verses and come away with at least a multidimensional view of Pilate, if not a sympathetic one. Here was a Roman governor doing his level best to pick his way through a minefield laid by his customers (Jews) on the one hand, and pressures from the home office on the other. But any thought of sympathy for Pilate ought to be fleeting. Pilate will be judged not only for what he did, but for what he did not do. He had a great deal of information about Jesus and an unparalleled opportunity to question Him face to face.

Ultimately, though, Pilate will be judged by the standard applied to the screaming crowd, and to me: what is to be done with this One who claims to be Savior of the world? (see Matt. 27:22). Jesus told Pilate, as He tells me, “For this I have been born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 18:37). Is Pilate accountable for Jesus’s death? You bet. Are the Jewish leaders responsible? Absolutely. Am I? Yes. It always comes down to this: it is not my sins that condemn me, those frustrating, self-disappointing failings I am prone to; rather, it is my unwillingness to accept the best deal in history. I am invited to trade in my old sin nature to become an unblemished, new creation, one no longer touched by sin now hidden beneath His shed blood—the Blue Light Special of all time!

Pilate and Lot (see Genesis 19) had similar choices. Lot did all he could to protect God’s angels from the lustful demands of the crowd. Pilate, though he twice determined Jesus to be innocent, chose not to protect Him. My response to God, and my response to the culture always presents choices. His heart’s cry is that I would choose life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for this review of Pilate’s role in Your death on a cross, a role that for him was the same as my own. Clarify issues that may confuse my heart and mind, Lord, that I might choose You in every instance.

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