Reading: Mark 15:1-15
“Can’t we all just get along?” Pontius Pilate was probably thinking something along those lines as Jesus and Barabbas stood in front of a wrathful crowd. He was worried about losing his job, and rightly so. Angry priests had been accusing a homeless man of rebelling against Emperor Tiberias. Poor Pilate probably already had a headache from listening to the priests babble on in their ridiculous language. It was still way too early in the morning to deal with this.
But this was a serious problem. That crowd was enraged, and Pilate knew why. The Jews in Galilee and Judea were a bit fanatical about worshipping their own god and governing their own land. As a good Roman governor, Pilate knew that he had to bring the emperor enough grain to feed cities like Rome and Corinth that were teeming with slaves and citizens. If that meant that a few Jewish peasants couldn’t feed their families, well, that was their business. Maybe in a few years he could get a promotion and leave these savage tribes to figure things out for themselves.
It was inconvenient having all these Jewish pilgrims in town for their festival. To keep them happy, Pilate usually released a prisoner. They always picked a terrorist. He’ll be right back in prison anyhow, so for now it’s best to satisfy the crowd. That’ll keep them from getting any ideas.
This Jesus the Nazarene, though: Something’s wrong with him, not all there or something. He definitely doesn’t know how to stand up for himself. He doesn’t know how to get things done, either. And how did he walk into this trap? I mean, if you just literally turned the tables on the scammers down by the temple, you might want to lie low for a while. What’s that? This guy has a plan for peace in the Middle East?
Maybe his wife took him aside again:
“Look, Pontius, I know you really don’t want to be bothered right now, but something happened a few years ago. This guy had joined a fishing crew up north on the sea.”
“You mean the lake?”
“OK, the lake. But here’s the thing: A storm blew in. You know how bad the weather gets in Galilee. Their boat wasn’t made for that kind of storm, but this guy woke up from his nap and said ‘Peace. Be still.’ He just said a few words, and the whole thing dispersed. Maybe he’s doing that right now.”
“Well, I have a job to do, you know. Maybe we can talk about this later.”
Pilate was too caught up in his own concerns to notice that the Son of God was standing in front of him. It is easy for us to see how terrible Pilate’s failure was, but do we fail to notice Jesus because we’re so busy attending to our own problems and interests?
By Stephen Waldron