“First thing in the morning…” Yesterday we saw our cast of characters travel from the High Priest’s house to Pilate’s palace, from the center of religious power to the center of civil power. They stand before Roman authority and their grump now is translated into language Rome will understand and that they hope will trigger a death verdict. Blasphemy is not a social crime. Many people swear and it is rather like water rolling off a duck’s back today. At the High Priest’s house the question was, “Are you the Christ?” but has now been translated into an accusation that Jesus claims to be King (Mark 15:2). Jesus is being accused of being a political threat. The change of wording escalates the crime to trial.
Somehow this scene is feeling very familiar to USA today. A demonstration is labeled “insurrection.” Our courts, investigators and journalists are trying to get to the “truth.” A couple of the criteria are the action of the leader at the time and the language used leading up to the event. Jesus was certainly talking about a kingdom but how does he act? Jesus does not seem to be acting like a political threat. Pilate asks point blank, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus, who answered the High Priest’s question directly, deflects back to Pilate, “You have said so.” Pilate is saying those words, not him, and yet he does not deny either.
Accused. Do you remember that childhood song, “Who has their hand in the cookie jar?” “Not I. Couldn’t be. Susie had her hand in the cookie jar.” I think we call this truth with a small “t” and truth with a large “T.” Jesus as True-God is King of the Jews, Truth, but as True-Man is not setting up a political kingdom. How do we respond under accusation? Do we come out swinging and fighting or are we able to stay calm and wait for the Truth to come out? Being misunderstood and misrepresented hurts. Jesus does not debate, defend, or try to engage Pilate at all. Jesus’ behavior of silence speaks louder than any long-winded explanation. Pilate sees the envy driving the mob. So perhaps our prayer today is for integrity and consistency of actions. May we stay calm when misrepresented and misunderstood. May our words and our deeds speak to the Truth of who we are and to the Truth of who God is in our lives!