John 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
I am very interested to realize how sympathetic a figure I am finding Pilate to be. He was far from sinless, as Jesus implies here, but he was really caught between a rock and a hard place. He was about ready to recognize that Jesus was Divine, or at least supernatural in some way, but the Jews framed the issue in terms of how it would look to Rome, to which Pilate had to answer temporally speaking. We know from other historical sources that Pilate didn’t have a sterling reputation in the Empire at this point, and he was very interested in preserving his career and his skin. In consequence, he was directly instrumental in crucifying the Lord of Glory. (1 Corinthians 2:8) We learn from other sources that the decision to do so haunted him the rest of his life. At any point in that, if he had cried out in repentance to the One whom he had crucified, he would have been forgiven and saved, but we have no record of that. As a result, he is one of the more tragic figures in history. That said, we need to recognize that our sins put us in the same position as Pilate. Every human being is just as much in need of forgiveness as Pilate was. Even Jesus here says that Pilate’s sin was “lesser,” yet we paint him as a terrible villain. Pilate’s story should inspire us all to deep humility and repentance.
The more I think about it, my sins are at least as bad as Pilate’s, because I have known from earliest childhood that Jesus was the Son of God, and yet I have done various things in my life deliberately disobeying Him. On top of that, there are the many things I have failed to do that He wanted me to do, and all of that doesn’t touch the countless things that I have done without deliberate intent, but which actively violated His will and His character. God’s grace is glorious because it’s so essential! As I seek to share the Gospel with others, I must never forget that I myself am totally hopeless without it. When I lose that awareness I instantly descend into hypocrisy. That’s not to say that I am to constantly look at myself as dirt. On the contrary, I have been forgiven and cleansed and made to be a child of God. I am to rejoice indeed in that, and know that since God could do it for me, He can do it for anyone!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the opportunity to interact with the guys last night and share the basics of salvation with them. One attended a Christian high school, so my remarks were a refresher for him. I pray that each of them would recognize that what they have seen in Cathy and me over the past few weeks has been Christ, and hunger for Him themselves. May they be the “break in the dam,” allowing a flood of young people to enter life in Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!