During this current US political season, we are exposed to a daily barrage of political blame, accusations and excuses from every side of the political spectrum. It might be tempting to think this is a modern condition, but the passage this week in John proves it is a longstanding condition. Pilate decided to have Jesus executed purely to save his political future. He knows (and made clear to Jesus’ accusers) that Jesus is innocent, but he chooses to sentence him to die so that he can remain governor and be in line for greater opportunities down the road. If Pilate took the path of integrity and courage, he would have refused to have Jesus crucified, even if it meant the risk of losing his position due to the threats of the priests.
Pilate put the sign above Jesus saying, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” knowing that it would irritate the priests; and possibly, to either soothe his conscience or throw them on the “guilt bus” with him. He refused to give in to their protests and it stayed. He may have felt a little better in the moment, but this little skirmish didn’t gain Pilate anything really - his guilt remained.
The first verse I memorized as a new follower was Proverbs 16:2, “We can always “prove” that we are right but is the Lord convinced?” (Living Bible). What this makes clear is that God sees through our justifications, excuses and blame shifting. He sees the truth of our actions, words and motives without any fuzziness or confusion. Pilate and the priests may have thought they were wise and crafty in their maneuvers, but they all had to answer to God – just like you and I will. In light of God knowing everything about us, the only wise path is to be humble and honest with Him and ourselves. Sure, we can twist the truth and fool others and eventually even ourselves, but one day we will have to face the truth before a holy and righteous God who isn’t swayed by our self-serving spin. The time for humble honesty is today.
“Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously.” 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 (NLT)