Who's In Charge Around Here?
Pontius Pilate is known for one thing: He played a minor role in Jesus' story. If you knew anything about him, you'd know how that idea would have driven him absolutely mad! See, Pilate wanted to be the star of the show -- the center of attention. If anything, he'd want to think that we know about Jesus because Jesus was a minor character in Pilate's story!
Pilate was the Roman governor of roughly three-quarters of what we now know as modern Israel. He had two jobs: (1) keep the peace; (2) collect the taxes. From his perspective, this meant one big goal: Stay in control.
To maintain control, Pilate would do things periodically -- flex his muscles -- show his power. If he suspected an uprising, he'd dispatch soldiers to randomly kill a handful of folks. Once, he wanted to build an aqueduct, but he didn't have enough money. No problem -- he sent some men into the Temple to steal money out of the treasury to make up the difference.
He did everything he could to make sure people knew he was in charge.
But the sad irony is that most people who demand to be in charge, rarely ever are.
Take his collision with Jesus, for example. The Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead, but they weren't authorized to pull the trigger. They needed Pilate's approval, and that played right into his ego. Trouble is, Pilate couldn't figure out what in the world Jesus had done to irritate these Jewish leaders so badly.
It wasn't for a lack of trying or a lack of investigating. Pilate questioned Jesus and just couldn't see how Jesus had done anything that would merit the death penalty.
Still, Pilate's job was to keep the peace. When he told the people he was thinking about letting Jesus go, they started making noise like they might riot.
So, even though he believed Jesus was innocent, Pilate had Jesus flogged. No care for justice. No thought as to whether this was morally right or wrong.
See, it's a lot easier to do the wrong thing -- to compromise your integrity -- when maintaining control is your ultimate goal.
He thinks this punishment will appease the crowds, but it doesn't. They don't just want Jesus to suffer; they want him dead.
Pilate stubbornly insists that he is in charge. He even says to Jesus, "I have the power to kill you or let you go."
Truth be told, Pilate tries unsuccessfully to let Jesus go 10 different times.
It's as if he assumes that since Jesus' hands are physically bound, Jesus cannot be in control. Pilate learns that Jesus is not a man to be trifled with. When Jesus says a thing is going to happen, you can try to stop it, but you'll soon see that resistance is futile. Jesus had said he was going to die this way. Not even the Roman governor who would have to sign the death warrant was able to stop it.
The Bible also says that one day every knee will bow and acknowledge Jesus' authority and power. You can try to stop that from happening, but you won't be able to. You can insist and demand and flex your muscles and cry all you want to. You can stubbornly refuse to admit your lack of control over the universe, but in the end you'll see who's really in charge around here.