I’m playing the part of Pilate for our church’s Easter drama. As I’ve been rehearsing my lines and getting into character, it dawned on me that I’m sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still release Him to the mob to be killed.
As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me. Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really accepted blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him.
There were all kinds of accusations being brought against Jesus in the different courts that night. The religious courts made up charges against Him, but they didn’t stick because the people they paid off couldn’t get their stories straight. They continued to harass Him and finally found a “guilty” verdict for Him speaking the truth. They just didn’t want to hear it.
In Pilate’s court, the religious leaders shouted accusations. In fact, the Message says, “The accusations rained down hot and heavy.” During all of the accusations, Jesus didn’t say a word. He fulfilled the prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 that says, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word.” Pilate was impressed that He was silent among all the false accusations and tried to pass the buck to Herod in Galilee. He didn’t want to be the one to condemn Him.
When Jesus came before Herod, all Herod wanted was to see Jesus perform a sign or a miracle. When Jesus remained silent, Herod became offended. He dressed Him up like a king and joined in with the others and began to mock Him. They insulted Him to try to get Him to speak. Finally, He got bored and sent Him to Pilate. He couldn’t find a reason to condemn Jesus either.
We all fit into one of these courts with our lives. We can be like the religious leaders and say that He wasn’t the Son of God. We can accuse Him of lying and deny that He was who He said He was. We can be like Herod and mock Him and those who believe in Him. We say, “Show me a sign and I’ll believe.” Or we can find ourselves like Pilate. We are impressed with Him and find no guilt in Him, but refuse to act on it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what court you’re in, it was each of us who condemned Him to death. He went willingly to the cross for those of us who lie about Him, those of us who mock Him and those of us who don’t bow to the pressure of sin.
Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”.