Jesus Arrested. Denial, Denial, Denial. Pilate Questions Jesus. The “Trial.” Tortured, Crucified. Jesus Dies.
Pontius Pilate is the grade-A schmuck of the Bible. As a prefect of Judea, he held responsible all of the citizens of Jerusalem, so when the Jewish leaders handed over Jesus for judgment and punishment, the duty fell to him. So how does he rule?
Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.”
John 18:31 (NIV)
Ok then. Pilate makes it clear to the High Priest that he finds no basis for any charges. So does he just free Jesus and end the matter there? No, it turns out that Pilate is a bit of a prisoner himself – to the whims of the zealots inhabiting his city. He continues to balk, presenting Jesus to the crowds for their judgment – sure that they will not want to murder their own “king.” But they turn against him, shouting “crucify him!”
He hands Jesus over, who is then beaten and given a cross to carry. Pilate yells out one final time: “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” (19:4) We get it, Pilate. You don’t think he committed any sin. The other gospels testify to Pilate “washing his hands” of this – a not-so-subtle gesture that absolves himself from any sort of sin.
But do we really believe that?
This is anecdotal, but I think we secretly judge passive sinners more than blatant ones. Every selfish person tends to act selfishly, creating a swath of destruction in his or her path. They stumble along like ogres, and before long, everyone ducks out of their way and leaves them be. Passive sinners know better though, for they decipher right from wrong and choose to do nothing about it. It’s almost more devious, and while we cannot say they are solely responsible, we can label them negligent and cowardly.
I’d rather be labeled selfish than a coward. That might just be me though.
I think Pilate is an asshole on top of being a schmuck. The Jewish leaders acted out of religious belief, but Pilate knew better than to let this crucifixion go through. That makes him an asshole.
Not my most articulate analysis, but it feels just as valid. I have little sympathy for cowards and assholes. And that is coming from someone who has experience as both.