The Word for today:
I understand Pontius Pilate. Except for the Holy Spirit, he's me.
Pontius Pilate is mankind, boiled down into a single person. He's a mix of bravery and cowardice, of independence and groupthink. He's got a heart and a head in conflict. And in his life's meaningful moment--when it all came down to a yes or a no--he hedged, he rationalized. He took the path of least resistance.
He saw through natural, fallen eyes, clouded by sin and self-preservation. Where John the Baptist had beheld the Lamb of God, Pilate beheld just a man.
In the most ironic moment in all of literature, Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?" The Truth, right before his very eyes, did not respond. It would not have done any good, because those eyes were unwilling to see.
But he pitied Jesus: "Behold the man!" he said, attempting to get the Pharisees and the crowd to relent so he could let Jesus go without causing a riot in an overcrowded Jerusalem, bursting at the seams for Passover.
"Behold the man!...just look at him! He's nearly dead already. He's suffered enough." He was trying to do the right thing. But he didn't have the fortitude to finish. While Jesus was standing up for you, Pilate wasn't brave enough to stand up for Jesus. So he did the politically expedient thing...
And Pilate posted a sign over him reading,
JESUS OF NAZARETH
THE KING OF THE JEWS
Something about the beaten man--something in his bearing, in his disdain for authority; or maybe something in his grave, sweet eyes--gave Pilate the impression that here, indeed, was a king.
But not for Pilate. Here was somebody else's King.
And justice was somebody else's cause. Handing Him over to be crucified, he washed his hands.