Innocence By Abdication?

Photo by Jacob Kelvin.J on

Jason Kenney has been taking a lot of criticism lately. One accusation that should send a chill down the spine of any leader is that by asking businesses to opt in or out of various restrictions he is trying to offload his responsibility and culpability for any poor decisions that are made. Critics point out that the choice to abdicate a choice is still a choice (and probably a poor one for a leader).

Now of interest to me is that this is not a new debate at all. We have here in Matthew a very similar and controversial figure (surprise, also a politician): Pontius Pilate.

“For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: ‘Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him'”.

“But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

Matthew 27: 18,19 & 26

Now I say controversial and I can hear some of you saying already “Where’s the controversy? Bad man. Full stop.” Did you know that in some of the world’s oldest church traditions, the Coptic Church, the Ethiopian Church and the Orthodox Church to name a few, Pilate is considered a saint? They take his washing his hands as actually absolving him of guilt in the death of Jesus. Some traditions have him later converting to Christianity and dying a martyr’s death.

So there. There is your controversy.

Now, I’m not really writing this to convince you of one side or the other (though he was definitely guilty, am I right?). My interest is rather than Pilate is given ample opportunity to do the right thing.

First, we are told he can read the motives of the chief priests and the elders clearly. It is a trumped up charged and everyone knows it.

Second, his wife tries to intercede. While the admissibility of dreams in the any court would likely be suspect, I doubt that was a request his wife made frequently. Might be worth paying attention to that.

Third, when the crowd is questioned why they want Jesus crucified, rather than answer, they simply shout Pilate down. Pilate knows there is no good reason for this man to die.

So why does he order the death of the ‘King of the Jews’?

“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd.”

Matthew 27:24

Now, in considering his plight, we ought to understand that in the Roman world any mob was viewed as a possible insurrection, was quickly stamped out and governors were frequently replaced because of rioting. If the events of January 6th 2021 had happened in a Roman province, you can be sure the executions would have followed swiftly.

But coming back to the point, Pilate had plenty of off ramps that he could have taken but he didn’t, because it suited his selfish ends. Now it would be really easy to start pointing fingers at folks like Mr. Kenney but the real point is that we all do the same thing.

I have plenty of opportunities in every day to do the right thing and I miss a lot of them. Here’s a key verse that really change my view of my own righteousness as a young Christian and continues to challenge me:

“If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

James 4:17

So let’s take a lesson from Pilate and realize the cost of our selfishness: the life of Jesus Christ. And let’s not wait to put that aside and embrace the new life that Jesus offers us.

Lord, I am a selfish person. Help me to find my security in you.

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