Our reading this week picks up directly from when we finished off last week. We heard then that ‘the Jews’ did not agree with Pilate’s declaration that this King of the Jews has no case to answer for. When given the choice between the release of Jesus and Barabbas, they choose Barabbas. The first thing we read this week is that Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. Even though Pilate has repeatedly said that he finds no charge against Jesus, the machinery of this Roman penal system is now in motion and Pilate seems to just let the wheels keep turning. The question raised last week around “What is truth?” seems to be cast aside and no longer considered as important in this whole process.
As we reflect on the descriptions given around Jesus’ treatment at the hands of the Roman officials and soldiers, I can’t help but reflect on all the stories we hear regarding the horrible ways that humanity can treat humanity. We hear and see the stories of war and internal conflicts, genocide, social media trolling, gossip, discrimination, and bullying, just to name a few. One of the podcasts that I listen to around our weekly readings gave a great response to the way we can treat each other at times – Good heavens, humans are a disaster!
Throughout all the exchanges that we read of this week Pilate is trying to maintain his power and authority over the situation. However, as mentioned last week, his grip on power is getting harder to hang onto. It disappears completely following Jesus’ reply to him saying “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above;”. From here on out Pilate is trying to release Jesus and get away from the whole situation, but it doesn’t work.
Pilate again declares his decisions that this Jesus has no case to answer and gives “the Jews” another opportunity to back out of this whole thing.
But the answer that comes back is the call to crucify him! Next week we spend a little bit of time thinking about Palm Sunday and the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem on a donkey. We’ll hear the cries of Hosanna, and the praise that the crowds greeted him and his disciples with.
But here we are, less than a week later in the timeline that follows Palm Sunday and the praise has turned to taunting, the cries of Hosanna have turned to crucify and we finish our reading with the words – “Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.” The world’s power has won – or at least it seems like that at this moment in the story.