Prepare to listen. Offer this prayer in preparation to receive the Gospel: I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my supplications. (Psalm 116:1)
Read Luke 23:13-25
13Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14and 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. 15Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16I will therefore have him flogged and release him.’ 18Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’ 19(This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ 22A 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.’ 23But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25He 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.
Three times Pilate spoke up for Jesus, stressing he found him innocent of all charges. Three times the people reject Pilate. Release Barabbas, a terrorist and murderer, instead; crucify, crucify Jesus, they shout out; ‘and their voices prevailed.’ Pilate changed his verdict, released the bad guy, and ‘handed Jesus over as they wished.’ I wonder how the Jewish religious leaders and the crowd they’d incited felt when Pilate changed his mind. I wonder what Jesus was thinking. Did you notice, he is silent, even unseen in this passage? He lived up to the prophet’s words: ‘like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth’ (Isaiah 53:7).
Jesus is the antithesis of so many leaders around us, both religious and political. How does his attitude make you rethink the role of leader for today?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Jesus, you went without protest or speech or reaction to your trial and death. You willingly embraced suffering and death for me, for your world. Help me demonstrate my gratitude and love today in some way by being more like you. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world, where religious and political leaders may have their way but where God wins in the end.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.