By Heather McGillivray
“For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matthew 27:18, NIV).
Isn’t it intriguing how Pilate knew from the offset that the only reason Jesus was being handed over to him was mere jealousy? And isn’t it even more amazing that, although he knew this, he chose not to support him in the end?
“Hrmphf!” I say to myself in my self-assured pride. “Had that been me in his shoes, surely I would have put an end to the whole thing right then and there.” And maybe, in my new nature, I certainly would have if I could have.
Yet Pilate had no new nature at the time, and it is clear from the rest of the account that he did not consider Jesus to be the Son of God. He was doing what every sinful soul does in a crisis: look out for number one!
The truly titillating thing about this whole story, though, is that Jesus had no need or desire to defend himself. In keeping with his Word, that he cannot be untrue, when asked if he was the king of the Jews, he responded that he was indeed. To everything else he remained silent. Did it matter to him at all what Pilate thought? No. Did he care to prove that his intentions were pure? No. Did he have to be right? No again, and even though he was all of these things, these things were not the issue.
How often do I stumble over my need to be perfectly clear, to be understood, to be shown to be right? How often do I even go out of my way to make sure everyone knows what is really going on? Jesus, however, found it enough just to know these things. There was a far greater work going on at the time — he was going to become the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins. Nothing short of that would or could make him stumble, not even being shown to be right. In fact, he knew all along that the Father’s will would be accomplished through the trickery and deceit of man, and that did not surprise him in the least.
Perhaps, in my own affairs, the issue is neither whether I am understood or proven to be right. Perhaps, like this account with Jesus, there is a far more glorious thing going on that I, in my limited understanding, cannot fully perceive nor know this side of paradise. Could it even be that the Father purposes to use what others intend for my harm to bring about an acceptable sacrifice that would actually draw those around me to him rather than repel them?
Do I make myself clear?
Lord, deliver me of the need to be exonerated. Help me to remember, in those times of testing, that you are working a far greater good than I could ever conjure up on my own, and fill me with your love instead so that I too will be able to say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
Heather, mom to two teens, lives in Chelmsford, Ontario, Canada. She enjoys poetry and song-writing.
By Heather McGillivray