Well done if you have been following the readings up to this point!
This week’s readings take us through to the resurrection of Jesus and His meeting up with some of the disciples. There is only one more chapter to go after that – which we keep for next week.
What we will eventually begin to explore is not merely the facts about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection but the meaning and significance of these events. It is not a coincidence that the symbol of Christianity is a cross, and that the central act of Christian worship is the Communion Service when we remember Jesus’ death.
There is so much to celebrate about Jesus life and teaching, and yet we choose to focus on the events surrounding His death and resurrection. Reflect on that as we near the end of our readings.
v 16. Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away.
You can’t help noticing as you read these verses just how often Pilate tried to get round the problem of condemning an innocent man to death.
v 4. but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.
v 6. Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.
v 8. When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever.
v 12. Then Pilate tried to release him,
v 15. “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
Even Pilate’s wife tried to warn him off.
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.” (Matthew 27:19)
So it is in verse 12 that we see the Jewish leaders twisting the knife in Pilate.
Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar. Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.”
Pilate’s self-interest was challenged. To remain in office, he needed to be seen as a friend of Caesar.
This is exactly the same issue that we noted with Peter in last Thursday’s reading. First Peter, and now Pilate, side with the mob: it was safer and more convenient to do that.
Beware of joining the crowd and letting go of your convictions about Jesus.