Voice of the Crowd! Actions of a Coward!
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere,
but that instead an uproar was starting, he took
water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.
“I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said.
“It is your responsibility!” Matthew 27:24
Sadly, in this passage, I saw another parallel to our modern experience. We find in this an innocent man (Jesus) who has been wrongfully accused, wrongfully arrested, unlawfully incarcerated and placed on trial. His incarceration does not match his actions.
Though there we no Karen’s in his day, He faced the hatred and persecution of those who detested His presence in “their neighborhoods” and “their places of business” and what it represented to them. Accused by a fearful influential group, He was approached by the governing soldiers and arrested based upon their word and not any deed that demanded the attention of the law. Despite a lack of evidence, He was punished as though He was guilty. He is publicly humiliated and punished to the pleasure and delight of the local influential figures and the crowd that followed them.
He was crucified for his words and teachings, which were no threat to Rome, but were a threat to the chief priest and elders. The kingdom being threatened was not Rome, but he kingdom of God that sat in the abusive hands of appointed officials. The religious leaders were unjust!
Though the crowd cried out “crucify Him” to a man that had served them. They raised their voices against a man that had raised his voice for them. They turned their back on the one who come to represent them, and present them before righteous before the Lord. The crowd was unjust!
Somehow “protected” in all this is Pilate. He deflects his actions by pointing at the actions of the religious leaders and the crowd. The chief priest and elders were powerless, and so was the crowd. They were subject to Rome and to Pilot’s decision in the matter, and though rebellion was an option, it was one neither wanted.
Pilot choose to be complicit because of governance and economic flow. His job was made easier by having the participation of the religious and local leaders. Though He had more power, he used the power of their influence to help govern his affair and maintain a viable economy. Their arrangement was mutually beneficial.
Pilate is a Representation
of our Representatives
The citizens of the Kingdom were subject to the local leadership and to the governing authorities. They were considered to be citizens, but had a faith that was tolerated, and respected, but not accepted. Their leadership was included and their faith considered, but their power was limited, and their participation manipulated to achieve a larger goal they had not say in choosing.
Pilate was not concerned
about the Citizens
Though Pilate is listening to the citizens in this passage, he had a history of not hearing and responding to their complaints. Though Pilate was aware of the treatment of the citizens, taxing, food supply, safety concerns, and genocide of a community by leadership and the hardship it caused so many, he was reluctant to make right the persecution experienced by their community, and was content with prosperity.
To Avoid making the Courageous Decision,
He Empowered the Crowd giving them a Voice.
This decision by Pilate showed himself to be a coward! And yes, we see this today! We see a group of people who lack the courage and ability to lead in adversity. As opposed to quieting the misled and ignorant crowd, they fan the flames of their hatred; saying the crowd doesn’t speak for their values, but validate the crowd by siding with them, and doing their bidding. These are the actions of a coward!
Pilate was given the power of the province, and had the power to administrate as he so chose. Pilate can release Jesus as being innocent, and can release Jesus Barabbas according to the tradition for the Passover. Pilate can insist that the chief priest and elders leave Jesus alone, releasing Him back in the community as an agent of mercy to attend to the hurts of the community that he governs. But, Pilate weighs his options, and though innocent, decides that he does not value the life of Jesus enough nor want justice enough, to release Him.
Community vs Civilian
Pilate makes a statement about life and his understanding of justice by washing his hands; allowing the community to make judgement on a man who had been a productive member of society. Though innocent, Pilate lets the community decide the fate of an individual who has met the requirements of the law. Instead of carrying out justice, he carries out vengeance on the life of an innocent man who was not valued. He makes a statement about the value of the life of the citizens he oversees. His value of them is relative to their financial contributions, the work they provide to the province he leads to keep it productive and profitable to the larger government he is connected too. Pay your taxes! Work your job! Follow my guidelines. Respect my office! Respect this country! Play your role!
Pilate valued his Supporters!
It would be unfair to say Pilate didn’t value the citizens, because the chief priest and elders were citizens. They were like a Superpact, paying respect and tribute to gain influence, and a local arm helping him control his territory. Together they insured that the back of the other remained clean. One being elevated as prominent, and the other being presented as pure. Each encouraged the respect and submission to the other, because they were common bedfellows who worshiped the same god, and used the God of the people to make them complicit.
Today, we see much of the same. Pilates concern was governance and maintaining power. He made his decisions not based on what was just, but what was popular and helped him maintain law an order. Though this proved taxing to a portion of the population, the favorable reports to those over him helped him gain favor and positioned him to continue moving up the scale.
Justice and Public Opinion
don’t Always Match
Justice is not about public opinion or political power. Justice is about what it right. Justice is not about citizenship, but its about righteousness. It’s doing and being fair not just to those who are in power or influential, but to those who do not own, and even those who are not contributing, while protecting the fair and righteous treatment between all existing parties.
A Squeaky Wheel get the Grease!
Justice is not about who is the most vocal, or even about the one who has the microphone. Justice gives a voice to everyone. Justice is not drowned by the crowed, but rises above the level of those who chant in fear of sharing their rights and finds a balance between those who have been denied rights. Justice brings about harmony, and doesn’t create further hardship and or pit one group against another.
Though history records Pilate as enforcing the will of the people, eternally, Pilate will be the one who ordered the persecution and crucifixion of the Messiah. Oddly, he thought water could wash off the stain of this moment. He believed that he could distance himself from the moment by cleaning his hands, and publicly declare him an innocent man that was sentenced to death by his peers.
Pilate lacked the Courage
to Choose Justice
Pilate was a part of the unjust treatment and sentencing of an innocent man. He was not courageous or convicted enough to take a stance for what was right, and thus the injustices in his province would continue. Pilate chose to play politics, while people were wrongfully accused and crucified, and hid behind the law to claim his innocence! Pilate is not innocent. He is complicit, playing a role in the demise of someone he believe is unable to help him gain or maintain power or generate wealth.
Such we see before us today. And this from a government that is supposed to be by the people and for the people. The power once associated with the position was about the creation and stabilization of a new nation, but now represents leverage and prosperity. People once ran to make a difference, and most now run to make a buck. The people they swore to represent, are victims of a system that feeds upon those it represents, and penalizes those who lack representation. Furthermore, the decisions made no longer represent the people, but represent the self interest of those who have been fortunate enough to get into office. Those in office were once measured by their efficiency, but are not measured by party values and the fear of loosing a seat to the opposing party.
No Taxation without….
I know, it’s always been about representation! Ironically, for a country that screamed at the top of its lungs “NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!” it is interesting that this country has spent so much interest taxing people who are not represented. Now the fight is to keep the representation of the minority to such the extent, that the presence of those in office is tolerated like cats and dogs and not seeking praise for no longer being visually cat and mouse.
Be it know that the chief priest and elders were not outwardly seen as Rome, but had their hands in the affairs. They spoke out as representatives, but in the passage, we see they were more like influencers than spokesmen. A spokesman would have called for the return of Jesus to the community, but the influencer in them called for the one who wouldn’t take power and influence from them.
Likewise was Pilate! The most important image displayed is his innocence and not the innocence of the citizen he is responsible for.
He washes his hands. I dare say he washed his hands like we wash our hands. Fearful of getting contaminated. We hope not to contract the virus. We carry around sanitizer like the saints of old carried holy water. Wiping down all that we touch. Cleansing ourselves before and after each encounter. We was wrist to finger, pinky to thumb, outside the hand and then inside the hand, making sure every spot of scrubbed and rinsed free from contaminants. While we we scrub to stay free from the Corona Virus travels through the air, Pilate scrubbed to stay free from the prince of the air that contaminated his province. He scrubbed his hands before the people, and before God, hoping that the blood shed on the cross would not be attributed to him.
Pilate was indifferent as to the survival and death of a citizen, and any county, city, country, or continent structured like this will soon fall. Rome fell, even after selecting Christianity as the official religion. Rome claiming to be God’s Country, didn’t prevent its demise, much like being God’s people didn’t prevent them from being punished or exiled.
Sadly, the same will be true for America. We can not justify injustice because we have placed the name of God on the local currency. We can not depend on God’s protection because the local political parties use a couple of Biblical values to round out their platform. We can not claim to be just when we are greedy. We can not claim to be righteous when our actions towards those within our boarders is unfair. We can not claim to be compassionate when we treat our neighbors as undesirables. We can not claim to be God’s Kingdom when there is division and favoritism, and where only a portion of those present receive the human rights given by God and not needed to be affirmed by a country and enforced by a government.