Holy Everything: Jesus upset Pilate’s sense of order
For this year’s Lenten series, “Holy Everything” is featuring meditations written from the perspectives of people with whom Jesus interacted in the Gospels. Today we encounter Pilate.
I despise disruptions, and I loathe weakness. I prefer, instead, predictability and power. As the governor of Judea, I spend my days ensuring the Roman rule of law is carried out in this region. I wasn’t thrilled to get the posting here so far from the heart of the empire. It’s rather dull compared to home. But as long as I can maintain the peace and keep my bosses happy, they let me do what I want.
A typical day for me includes interacting with a few criminals and ordering an execution or two, ensuring the tax collectors are doing their jobs, and overseeing a few prominent building projects around the city. I spend the rest of my days and nights savoring decadent food and wine, reading and being entertained. Having as much power as I have is quite something; I highly recommend it.
Yet even with all this power, I wasn’t able to avoid being disrupted by a man named Jesus. It’s been a few days now since he was crucified, but the image of his sad face is seared into my mind. My wife was impacted by this strange man as well. She had a nightmare about him before the charges against him even surfaced, and she remains very troubled by my involvement in the whole mess.
Part of my job is to sentence criminals to death. It doesn’t bother me. I usually don’t even think twice about it. Letting criminals run amok would threaten what I’m trying to build here. But this Jesus person wasn’t a criminal. If anything, he was not well. He described himself to others as the Son of God. Why would he say something like that? Outrageous.
There were all kinds of rumors that he had miraculous powers and healed multitudes of sick people. That’s all very well and good, but apparently he also said things that were upsetting to a variety of powerful audiences. Why he didn’t just stop saying such things is far beyond me. Instead, he kept right on disrupting as he continued on a path doomed for destruction.
By the time he was brought to me, he was considered by many a threat to good social and religious order. Crowds were chanting for his crucifixion. As far as I could tell, he wasn’t an actual threat to anyone. I said as much to him, the crowds and Herod. “Just let this man go,” I said again and again. Yet, truth be told, I didn’t find a way to let him go. Instead, I stood by as things went from bad to worse.
All day long as governor, I hear people try and make a case for their innocence. If anyone had such a case, it was Jesus. Yet when he stood in my chambers, he didn’t say much of anything at all. It was a waste of time to even meet with him. The man was impossible to comprehend.
Why did he choose to spend his days disrupting good order and then stand silently before me, the one man who had the power to decide his fate?
Eventually I relented to the crowds. If so many people wanted him dead, it seemed a waste of my energy to stand in their way. So he was crucified. Big deal. Crucifixions happen a lot around here. Then a few of his followers asked for his body. Fine with me. I’d hoped that was the end of it. It should’ve been.
But now there’s word that someone saw him in the city. Alive. Obviously that can’t be. But why would people say such a thing? It’s impossible, right?
Soon I hope to get back to my routines and forget all about this. As I mentioned to you, I like power and predictability, and Jesus thoroughly disrupted everything.