Luke 23:13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and 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. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” 18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!”
In the Apostle’s Creed we say that Jesus was, “crucified under Pontius Pilate” which is true. Pilate had the authority to choose a less severe punishment for Jesus but, afraid of the Jewish crowds (which far outnumbered the Roman soldiers in his charge), Pilate relented and ordered Jesus crucified.
Pilate had a chance to do the right thing, but ultimately caved to public pressure.
There are times when doing the right thing will bring criticism. Reminds me of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I am not immune to the opinions of others or pressure to conform. There’s a lot of pressure to conform these days. US culture has been described as “tribal” in that one is either conservative or progressive. There have been a number of times when people have asked me to pick a side. For the most part I have resisted. I am neither conservative nor progressive but am a Christian serving in the name of Jesus. If I choose a political side I become an adversary of the other and my capacity to shepherd a diverse congregation is compromised.
In part, Jesus was crucified because he refused to take a side. He would neither side with the Roman or Jewish authorities. Within the Jewish community he refused to side with either the Pharisees or Sadducees. Jesus aligned himself with the Kingdom of God, choosing grace and mercy rather than condemnation. And he was killed for it.
Lord Jesus there is great pressure for us to pick a side. Give us grace to resist. Amen.