The goal of a government—and of an entire civilization—should be “to let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24). Unfortunately, Pilate was a spineless, corrupt politician. He provides an example of how the Power of the Kingdoms of this World often goes astray, combining with the Power of Money and the Power of Religion to crush the Way of Jesus.
Beware the Power of the Kingdoms of the World.
Pilate wielded the Power of the Kingdoms of the World to torture and kill Jesus. Why?
Those who wield the Power of Money and the Power of Religion know how to get the Kingdoms of this World to do their bidding.
On Palm Sunday, large crowds welcomed Jesus as the Messiah. He drove the money lenders and merchants out of the Temple.
The rich religious leaders were scared of Jesus. They knew they had to silence Jesus and kill him. Otherwise, they might lose the Power of their Money and the Power of their Religion.
The only question was when and how to arrest, torture and kill Jesus. They feared that the crowds who supported Jesus on Palm Sunday would riot if they arrested Jesus.
Enter Judas Iscariot. He loved money. He despised Jesus. Thirty pieces of silver was all it took to get Judas to betray Jesus by showing where he could be arrested quietly.
The rich religious leaders held quick “judicial” proceedings that very night. The conclusion was foreordained. It was a lynching. Jesus must die!
Nevertheless, the rich religious leaders were unable or unwilling to perform a public execution. Enter Pilate, the Roman Governor.
The goal of a government—and of an entire civilization—should be “to let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24).
Unfortunately, Pilate was a spineless, corrupt politician. He provides an example of how the Power of the Kingdoms of this World often goes astray, combining with the Power of Money and the Power of Religion to crush the Way of Jesus.
Early in the morning (after the night when Jesus was betrayed and arrested), the rich religious leaders “made their plans how to have Jesus executed. So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor.” (Matthew 27:1-2).
After hearing the evidence and what Jesus said, Pilate announced to the rich religious leaders and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man”. (Luke 23:4).
Keep in mind that this crowd was not the same crowd that supported Jesus on Palm Sunday. This crowd was controlled and incited by the rich religious leaders. (Matthew 27:20; Mark 15:8-15).
It is essential not to blame any one religion, philosophy, or ideology for having rich “religious” leaders who misuse the Power of their “Religion”. For example, Christianity and its rich religious leaders have often been cruel tools of the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World.
Each “religion” must first remove the plank from its own eye, before criticizing the speck of sawdust in the other “religion’s” eye. (Matthew 7:1-5).
All of us (including all “religions”, kingdoms, and civilizations) have gone astray like sheep. (Isaiah 53:6).
Fortunately, the LORD is our Good Shepherd. (Psalm 23:1). Even though we have gone astray, the LORD will seek us tirelessly until he rescues us. (Luke 15:1-7). The LORD will refresh our souls and guide us along paths of righteousness. (Psalm 23:3).
As Jesus died on the Cross on Good Friday, Jesus proved that he spoke the Truth when he said: “I am the Good Shepherd [who] lays down his life for his sheep.” (John 10:11). The Good Shepherd who rescues us so that we may enjoy life to the full. (John 10:10; Psalm 23:1-6).
If Pilate had been a statesman, he would have ignored the pressure from the Power of Money and the Power of Religion. However, Pilate was not conducting a good faith search for the truth.
This became clear when Jesus told Pilate that “the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” (John 18:37).
Pilate ridiculed Jesus. He sneered, “What is truth?”.
Ironically, Pilate crucified Jesus because he feared a lie being shouted by the Power of Money and the Power of Religion. The crowd shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”, while the rich religious leaders said, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Jesus. Anyone [such as Jesus] who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:6,12-16).
Pilate knew full well that Jesus did not want to be the King of a Kingdom of this World. Jesus told him, “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36). That’s why Pilate “found no basis for a charge against [Jesus].” (John 18:38).
Like many a politician before and since, Pilate was definitely not on the side of truth.
And, like many a politician before and since, Pilate’s main goal was deflecting any criticism for what he did or didn’t do.
To the contrary, Pilate wanted to avoid responsibility for what he was about to do.
“When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but instead that an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’”. (Matthew 27:24).
Pilate risked demotion—or even death—if word reached the Roman Emperor that Pilate was not punishing someone who claimed to be a king.
And so, Pilate ordered that Jesus be mocked, tortured and crucified.
Jesus was crushed by this combination of the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of this World. (Isaiah 53:10). He was mocked, tortured and killed.
Pilate and the rich, religious leaders made the tomb where Jesus was buried as hard to open as they could. The Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World sealed the big stone at the entrance of the tomb, and posted a guard. (Matthew 27:60,65-66).
Nevertheless, on Easter Sunday morning, Jesus crushed the combined Power of Money, Power of Religion, and Power of the Kingdoms of the World. God resurrected him, giving Jesus “[a]ll authority in heaven and on earth”. (Matthew 28:18).
By following the Way of Jesus, our words and actions will crush the combined Power of Money, Power of Religion, and Power of the Kingdoms of the World.
How? By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus as symbolized by baptism. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
By going fully under the water to be baptized, we symbolically confirm our decision to suffer and die with Jesus, crucifying our former ways of sinful living. By rising from the water, God symbolically resurrects our life so that we may have eternal life—a life that we enjoy in this life and in the life to come. (John 10:10; Romans 6:2-8).
By crucifying the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World in our life, we will truly enjoy our life now and in the life to come!
By crucifying the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World in our civilization, we will build a civilization that is good—that is very good!
To read more of my Lenten meditations, please read my blogs “Beware the Power of Money”, “Beware the Power of Religion”, “Steak or Salad?”, “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”, “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”, “Do Not Jump Off the Temple”, “Do Not Seek the Kingdoms of the World and Their Authority”, “Pilate: The Love of Power”, “Jezebel and Ahab: Greed, Lies and Violence”, “Jesus Climbs the Temple Mount”, “Timothy: A Good Shepherd”, and “St. Francis of Assisi Made the Way of Jesus Great Again”.
To read more about the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of this World, please read the chapter “Ahab Takes Naboth’s Vineyard” in my book Healing the Promised Land, at pages 221-233, and the chapters “Caiaphas Tells the Sanhedrin That Jesus Must Die”, “Jesus Defeats Caiaphas’ Cronies”, and “Pilate Bows to the Political Pressure To Crucify Jesus” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 215-217, 229-233, 277-285.
To read about how to build a civilization that is good—that is very good, please read my blog “How Do We Build a Civilization That Is Good—That Is Very Good?” and the related chapter “Nimrod’s Wars and Babel’s Arrogant Selfishness” in my book The Promised Land, at pages 21-24.
To read about how we light the world, not by might nor by power, but by God’s Spirit so we bless all people, please read my book, Lighting the World, especially the chapter “God’s Power Is Made Perfect in Our Weakness” at pages 139-142.
To read about the importance of Freedom of Religion to protect Americans from the Power of Religion, please read the sections “The First Americans: The Pilgrims”, “Visions of America”, “Roger Williams and ‘Religious Freedom’”, “The Great Awakening”, and “The Bill of Rights” in my book Visions of America, at pages 16-21, 49-52.
To read about how God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, please read the section “Who Is the Greatest?” and the chapter “Relying Upon the Lunar Module” in my book Visions of the Church, at pages 177-185.