I WAS RENDERED HELPLESS (Matthew 27; Mark 15; Luke 23; John 18-19).
I am the man that must plead guilty. I had the final say, what to do with Jesus, the “King of the Jews.” It did not, at all, turn out the way I had hoped. I was the most powerful man in the region; yet, I could not free One Innocent Man from being crucified. I was the Roman governor, the most powerful nation on earth at the time; yet, I felt as if some one had tied my hands and rendered me completely helpless. If I stopped writing right now, you would already know who I am and fill in the empty pages regarding my inability to act. But because I am Pilate, who did sentence Jesus to die. I would like to tell you my side of the story. It was not all that simple and I have asked myself over and over, the rest of my life, what I could have done to prevent this travesty and perversion of justice.
The affair with Jesus was not really my concern. He was no threat to me or to our Emperor or my nation. In fact, He was extremely helpful. He advocated peaceful coexistence. He rendered to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s. He was too downright honest and that got Him into trouble with the dishonest and false leaders of my Jewish subjects. He reminded them, too much, of their evil ways and their perversion of their laws. So with the help of a traitor from Jesus’ own group, these leaders took Him prisoner at night, while He was praying. That gives you an idea what kind of people I had to deal with. And when they brought Jesus to me, it was still dark. They already had concocted a plan to trap me into sentencing Jesus to death. They presented Jesus as a pretender to the Jewish throne and therefore as a rival to Caesar. In reality, they had condemned Him for not keeping their Holy Days, for spoiling their illegitimate business in the Temple and for making Himself out to be a Son of God.
I regret that my soldiers mistreated Jesus. I am sorry for the crown of thorns, the royal robe and the ridiculing of a good man. I am deeply in remorse that I permitted my soldiers to spit on Him and mock Him for being the King of the Jews. How could I, as a powerful military commander, make or even tolerate that this godly Man had to carry His own cross? How could I yield to the vicious demand of my subjects that this righteous Person be hung on a cursed cross? Even my wife warned me not to become involved with “This Man.” She had been tortured, in dreams, but I was being tortured in my soul. Several times, I had Jesus brought forth and told his accusers that I found no fault in Him, but all to no avail. I washed my hands in front of them to show that I was innocent of such a miscarriage of justice. Since it was the Jewish Passover, I offered to set Jesus free according to their custom. I could hardly believe what I heard. They did not want Jesus to be released, but Barabas, the terrorist. And when I asked bluntly what they wanted me to do with Jesus, they shouted, “crucify him, crucify him,” over and over! It was so loud and terrible that I covered my ears with my hands. When the shouting stopped, I said to them, “You take Him and crucify Him.” That made these leaders and their followers furious and they accused me of being in league with Jesus against Rome. Can you imagine how wicked and evil these people were? I felt humiliated and asked again whether they really wanted their King to be crucified. Imagine what these mortal enemies of Rome said? “We have no King but Caesar!” Yes, I heard right. They did not want Jesus to be around to remind them of their crooked ways. They forced me to sentence Jesus to die on the cross and the leaders gave me the reason. Rome demanded an explanation and the most valid one was that a pretender had raised his head. That is why I ordered the inscription to be posted over Jesus’ head in Aramaic, Greek and Latin: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.”
If I thought that my affair, regarding Jesus, had ended then I was mistaken. The Jewish leaders were upset with me that I had designated Jesus as the King of the Jews. They wanted me to change the inscription to read that He said that He was the “King of the Jews.” I had a long talk with Jesus before I sentenced Him. More correctly, I did the talking and He did the listening. But the few words He spoke were that His Kingdom was not of this world. If it had been then His servants or angels would have fought for Him. He was more interested in the “Truth” than in a Kingdom. I was skeptical what He meant by truth, but now that I was looking into these faces of these leaders, I began to understand. Truth could only be understood in contrast to injustice. And this was one time I stood my ground by pointing the finger of guilt at them and declared, “What I have written, I have written!” I also began to remember what Jesus said to me when I told Him that I had the power to release Him or sentence Him. He told me that I had none and that the greater guilt, lay with those that had dragged Him before me. He, understood, that I was merely doing the dirty work of a people that hated the Son of the Almighty God. Jesus had come to better their lives and save them from their sins. I was in for another surprise. This one swept me off my feet. These men, that did not believe in Jesus, were afraid that He might come back from the dead to hunt them. They insisted that I post guards at the entrance of Jesus’ tomb. I obliged them gladly, just to get these irrational men out of my hair. This one got me puzzled. Three days later my soldiers were back, making up some story that Jesus’ followers had stolen His body. Jesus’ followers insisted that their Teacher was alive, had appeared to them, left some specific instructions and was transported to heaven. I could never make out who was telling the truth, and that was how it should have ended for me. Instead, I could not dismiss Jesus’ hint that I was merely a tool in the plan of a much higher power and that it came from above. It was not a man like me that was in charge, but the God of gods in heaven.