Reflections around the cross – Pontius Pilate: Playing the blame game

He really ruined my day, you know.  All was going well in Jerusalem until he came along.  I was doing my bit, keeping law and order – which isn’t easy to do with that riff-raff, especially when it’s their festival season.  I don’t know what they put in the water, but everyone seems to get rather excited.  Tempers flare up and before you know it, you have a full-blown riot on your hands – and you can’t have that.  The walls have ears you know, and any hint that you’ve lost control, Caesar is sure to find out, and then there’ll be trouble.  No, it needs a steady hand to keep the peace, you know: A man of intelligence, experience, courage; a master diplomat; a man of the people.  Someone exactly like me, in fact.

 

And that’s what I was doing that Friday morning: keeping the peace.  The religious authorities – who, by the way, are far too big for their boots – called on me to intervene in their affairs.  A man, Jesus, from the north, was causing them trouble. I couldn’t quite see what the fuss was all about; couldn’t they deal with the problem themselves? After all, this man was their problem, wasn’t he?  But they insisted, saying he was calling himself the King of the Jews, and that only I had the authority to execute the man.  So, I interviewed him; and quite frankly I couldn’t see any reason to charge him of any crime.  He talked about having a kingdom from another place.  He said that he came to testify to truth.  All in all, he wasn’t a threat to anyone.  So I made up my mind: I was going to release him.  No one was going to push me around.

 12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

 13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

   “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

   “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

   “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

(John 19)

I’m here to keep the peace, you know.  I’m very good at it, actually.  Every decision I make is in the interest of keeping the peace.  That Jesus was simply causing too much trouble.  The Jewish leaders didn’t want him around anymore.  I told him I was trying to help him, but he wasn’t at all cooperative! In fact, he said that the only reason I have any power at all is because it’s been given to me from above.  The cheek of it!  I’m a very powerful man, and what I say goes in this part of the world.  But those Jewish leaders kept on nagging and nagging; they just wouldn’t shut up.  So, I gave in and handed him over so they could do what they wanted with this man.  I only did it to keep the peace; so why can’t I find any peace myself?

 

I mean, I had the best of intentions. It was obvious to me that he was innocent.  I did my best to let him off. It’s not my fault he’s dead.  It’s not my fault.  All I’m trying to do is keep the peace.  To do my job.  I don’t think any one else would have done better in my position. I had the best of intentions.  It’s not my fault that it didn’t work out exactly as I’d planned, is it? If you want to blame anyone, blame the Jewish leaders – they were the ones who wanted him dead.  There would have been all-out rebellion had they not got their way.  I only backed down to keep the peace; so why can’t I find any peace myself?

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