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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, April 10, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Luke 23:1–25

Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.”

When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. I will therefore have him flogged and release him.”

Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.” But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished. (NRSV)

I know that it is an oversimplification, yet I understand the interaction between Jesus, the masses, and Pilate to be the “blame game” taken a little too far. When reading this back and forth I can’t help but think about all the times I was too afraid to stand up for what I believed in. I was too worried about being the odd person out. Anytime bad things happened because of my own personal inaction I would tell myself it could not be only my fault, because I was going with the flow. I stood silent while others around me yelled “crucify him!”

Maybe there were people present in the crowd that called for Jesus to be sentenced to death who did not want to see the man die. Maybe there were people in the crowd that Jesus helped, healed, or simply listened to. Yet when faced with the reality that they would have to be dissenters, that they would have to put themselves in harm’s way to save the one who saved them—they folded under the pressure.

There are times where I wish I could be like Jesus. He was still triumphant in the face of lies and deceit. He did not harbor anger or malice for people who hated him. Even in the end Jesus sought what is good for the world.

Almighty God, steadfast in love and slow to anger, please soften my heart. Loving Lord, aid me as I seek to leave my selfish ways. Open my eyes so that I may see the harm I might have caused in not taking responsibility for my actions. My Rock, my salvation, embolden my soul—for I do not want to be among those who cry “crucify him!” Amen.

Written by Quantisha Mason, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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