“I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel…cursed is the ground for thy sake…thorns and thistles shall it bring forth…” – Genesis 3:15-18
When Adam and Eve fell from perfection in the Garden, a promise was given that in time a descendent of the woman would come and deliver them from the curse brought on by their sin. It did not mean that He would be exempted from bearing the marks of the curse in His own body. Rather, He would come and bear the curse so that He could free all of mankind from the curse.
After Jesus was lied about, falsely accused, and injustice was carried out in a mock trial, Pilate ordered Him to be severely beaten. Having finished shredding the flesh on his back and legs with a specially designed whip, the Roman torturers took a band of thorns (a direct result of the fall) and twisted them together to make a mock crown. The accusations had been flying that Jesus had come to be the King of the Jews. Less than a week earlier, He had ridden into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey being adorned with the cheers of a frenzied crowd. He was the descendant of King David, the rightful heir to the throne. But those moments were gone. Now, He was being treated like a criminal.
Standing next to a bloodied Jesus robed in purple hints of regal satire, and a crown made of curse-born thorns, Pilate presented his case to the Jewish leaders that were calling for Jesus’s death. “Behold the Man!” Expecting the Roman brutality to satisfy their blood thirst, Pilate looked on at the religious crowd and exclaimed, “See how I have abused Him, aren’t you satisfied?” The response of vitriol from the mouths of Jesus’s enemies demonstrated that Satanic hatred has no boundaries, “Crucify Him!”
Unbeknownst to them, when they rationalized their call for execution, they startled the superstitious, Roman Pilate to the core. “He made Himself the Son of God.” John tells us that this statement caused Pilate to retreat with Jesus privately to inquire if it was true. When Jesus refused to answer him, Pilate explained how powerful he was and that he even had the power to kill or to release Jesus. Pilate’s mind was not set at ease at the answer of a confident, truth-holding Jesus, “All of your power is not from you, but is from God.” Pilate could not deny the powerful words that came from the mouth of Jesus, but in fear he succumbed to the lies and will of the Pharisees, eventually offering Jesus to be crucified.
Bearing a cross, Jesus departed from the hall of Pilate. For centuries Pilate would be remembered as the man who knowingly executed an innocent Jesus. Because of cowardice and fear, he had disregarded justice and had partaken in an evil plot by wicked men. Pilate sought to mask his foolishness by attaching the false accusation of insurrection. His claim forever would be that Jesus sought to be the King of the Jews and overthrow the Roman government. Nothing could be further from the truth, and any rational bystander could see that.
How often do we do similar things? Knowing the right and true thing, we succumb to pressure and fear instead of truth and justice. Seeking to please a few, we expend mercy and love. May we see Pilate’s failure today and be encouraged to seek rightness and purity in our own lives.
Food For Thought: Why was Pilate scared of crucifying Jesus? Why did Pilate eventually still crucify Him?