He Was Innocent
Don't get me wrong. In the grand scheme of things, I am grateful that Christ died for my sins. I'm grateful that His sinless life covered mine.
But when I read Luke 23:13-25 my heart goes out for Pilate. Pilate has examined Jesus. He calls together the leading priests, other religious leaders, "and the people" to deliver his verdict: NOT GUILTY. He tells them, you brought him to me on a charge leading a revolt. He said, I have examined Him thoroughly on this point in your presence and find Him innocent. Herod came to the same conclusion. Nothing this man has done calls for the death penalty.
Here is where my heart goes out for Pilate. He's in charge. He has been invested with the responsibility to oversee justice. He is supposed to be protecting the interests of Rome. If he were more resolute, he would have simply let Jesus go. And he would have been right to do so.
But there's something weak in Pilate that reveals itself in his decision to try to throw these priests, religious leaders and murderous mob a bone a bone. He offers them a concession. Though he knew Jesus was innocent (said he had examined him thoroughly and found him not guilty) he said, "I will have Him flogged." What in the world is that!? Why beat an innocent man?
Pilate is weak. And Pilate is a leader. And I feel bad for him. Because instead of making a principled decision to release an innocent defendant, he caves to pressure to give the mob a little. He owed them nothing. They had already cost the empire the time and money of a trial that had no business taking place. Pilate should have reprimanded them as an agent of the Roman Empire. But he was weak.
And the mob smelled his weakness like a shark smells blood. After he foolishly offered to have Christ beaten, the crowd roared, "Kill Him! And release Barabbas to us!"
Luke goes on to point out that Barabbas was in prison for the very thing they falsely accused Jesus of doing: being part of in insurrection AND for murder. Pilate has opened a can of worms with his offer. The crowd would not be satiated until he gave in to their demand. And sadly, he did.
It just awful. Pilate caved to the pressure of the crowd. People need leaders who don't lead based on the latest Gallup poll results. People need leaders who operate from principle. People need leaders who, when the time or the situation calls for an unpopular but right decision, will take a stand and let the chips fall where they may.
Lord, help me to be a leader who bases his decisions on principle and not on the latest poll or to seek to remain popular.