Last week, in "Lessons From Jesus' Trial," Part
4, we learned from the courts of Herod that just because something is
physically possible for us doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. We
must always examine our motivation, and when our motivation is purely
personal advancement, then best to follow the example of Jesus in
Herod's court and--do nothing.
Jesus' seemingly endless trial has just one more stop. After the ridicule of Herod's court, they dressed Him: "...in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate." (Luke 23:11).
Following the brief trip to Herod's court, the Bible does not record any further things that Jesus said or did. In fact, what we see upon Jesus' return is that Pilate would really like to release Jesus: "I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Therefore, I will punish him and then release him." (Luke 23:14-17, NIV2)
In fact, Pilot tried three times to have Jesus released, for after the above scene, the Bible records: "Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again..." (Luke 23:20), and then: "For the third time he spoke to them: ‘Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.'" (Luke 23:22)
These three appeals fell on deaf ears, however, for the bible says, "But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed." (Luke 23:23)
Pilate now had a choice to make: He could either follow his own conscience and release Jesus, or he could keep the peace--and the respect!--of the leaders of the people and do what they requested. Unfortunately, he gave in: "So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will." (Luke 23:24-25, NIV2)
Before we go and be too hard on Pilate, take a moment to think about what you might have done in his shoes, what you have done in the past when faced with similar situations.
Now I know that none of us have ever been in Pilate's exact shoes; yet we have all been placed in situations where we had the choice of either defending Jesus or keeping quiet. Which has it been?
Many of you have chosen to defend Jesus, despite the possible negative outcomes, and you are commended for this. But what about the rest of us? Have we simply kept our mouths shut? Did it seem simpler to just give in? Did we succumb to popular opinion? Did we...follow in Pilate's steps?
Friends, Pilate may have been weak. He may have been too concerned about the opinion of the crowd. He may have been simply a people pleaser. But let's remember that he did try to save Jesus' life. He made an effort--many in fact--to preserve Jesus' existence. That took courage; yet in the end, he succumbed to the desires of the crowd. And herein lies the lesson for us today: Let's follow Pilate's example and seek to defend our Jesus, our faith; but let's take it a step farther: Let's stand firm and not give in.
Unfortunately, this isn't an easy thing, is it? Nonetheless, God gives us the solution for just such situations in His Word:
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes...Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people...Pray that [we] may declare [the word of God] fearlessly, as [we] should." (Eph 6:10-20, NIV2)
If we stand strong in the Truth, in our faith, in the Word of God, in the security of His righteousness and Salvation, if we pray without ceasing that we may declare the Word of God without fear, we will not fall into the pitfalls that Pilate succumbed to. Instead, we will stand up and defend our faith with all boldness and wisdom, and as a result, many will be drawn to the Lord.
This is the last lesson in the series, "Lessons From Jesus' Trial". If you have missed any of these lessons, you will find them published online by clicking here. Or if you do not have access to the Internet, email me and I will send them to you. May God bless you abundantly as you worship Him this Easter season!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To Access the entire "Lessons From Jesus' Trial" mini-series, please click here.)