The Man

Frontline Devotion for June 25, 2017 (Season of 'Time After Pentecost')

By: Susan Hill

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John 19:1-7

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. And the soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" and striking him on the face. Pilate went out again and said to them, "Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no case against him." So Jesus came out, wearing a crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, "Here is the man!" When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God."

Jesus' fate is caught up in a political/religious tug of war.

Pulling on one side of the rope is Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect (governor) in Judea.

Countering on the other side is Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, appointed for life as religious leader, and recognized by his community as 'de facto" head of the Judean government.

Both sides protect the political balance of power in the regional because their leadership positions and wealth depend on it. The incendiary questions surrounding the "Jesus problem" threaten that balance and the "peace" it maintains. Who is this man? Is he guilty or not? What is his crime? Whose authority does he represent? Pilate finds no fault with him; Caiaphas and the traditional Jews say he's blaspheming by calling himself the Son of God. No one seems to know who this man really is but many call for his death. Pilate and Caiaphas must resolve the situation or they will pay the consequences of the local unrest.

Blinded by personal ambition, the two leaders fail to recognize the presence of God in their midst in the person of Jesus Christ. They capitulate to their own interests for political gain. Seeing no other way out, Pilate gives in to the angry Jews and leaves go of the rope. Jesus, the true Son of God who is innocent of all charges, will be crucified as the angry crowd insists.

Ironically, the political status quo that Pilate and Caiaphas sought was never realized. The world was turned upside down by Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. Nothing was ever the same afterward. "It is Pilate who has the caption 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews' put on the cross. The Jews object, but Pilate writes more wisely than he knows, for truly Jesus is their supreme King." (Study Bible for Women, 219) God's plan overrides all human power structures.

Prayer: God of power and goodness, thank you for the gift of your Son, Jesus, the man who gave all to save us from sin and death. Save us and our grieving world from the tragic outcomes of political self-interest, power, and irresponsibility that continue to plague us. Send us leaders with[u1] integrity and inspire us to live according to your truth to which Jesus testified while he was among us. In Jesus' holy name we pray, Amen.