Condemning the Innocent

Ash Wednesday21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor. Barabbas,” they answered. 22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!”  23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”  24 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!”  25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”  26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. -> Matthew 27:21-26

The complexities of political power make for some strange decisions by those in power.  Self-interest seems to be the overriding factor in the decision process for many in positions of power.  Pilate was no different than others in his position.  Those over him (think Caesar) wanted their minions to do two things for the most part.  They wanted peace in the region and a good revenue source for the empire (again, think Caesar). Sometimes those with a little authority are as likely to abuse it as those with much authority.  Pilate was in a sensitive position in an area of the empire subject to unruly behavior on the part of its subjects.  He made a rudimentary attempt to free a man he knew was innocent but was unwilling to go further for fear of causing a riot.  The Jewish religious leaders were entirely capable of doing that.  So, to keep the peace, he offered to set Jesus free.  When this was rebuffed by the religious leaders and the crowd he allows them to take Jesus and crucify him.  His actions were a tacit consent to do the will of the religious leaders and their followers.  So Jesus is delivered to them to be crucified.

Good people are often wrongly treated, imprisoned and even killed, by those who wish to feather their own nest and consolidate their power.  Even judges in our own country can be pressured by forces outside the courtroom to take action against people of faith even when it is blatantly against the laws of the land.  People have been fined and imprisoned for their beliefs about the sanctity of human life and when some are opposed to their religious principles.  How do we act/react when we are thus persecuted for our faith?  How should we handle these things?  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:10-12 that, 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. “

As you pray today, keep in mind those who make decisions that impact the lives of those around them.  They may be in the work force, in government or positions of power and responsibility in businesses with which you and others interact.  Pray for them to uphold the right principles without regard to the fallout from those above or below them.  Pray for those whose lives are negatively impacted by the decisions of others over which they have to control and often no input at all.  If you are in a position to make decisions that affect others, pray that you will seek above all else God’s will in each decision made.

~ Quote of the Day ~

“Repentance is the doorway to the spiritual life, the only way to begin. It is also the path itself, the only way to continue. . . . Only repentance is both brute-honest enough, and joyous enough, to bring us all the way home.”

~Frederica Matthewes-Green

 

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