11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You say so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many accusations they make against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
15 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. 17 So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he realized that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. 19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!”
Do you ever feel a little bit sorry for Pilate and his role in this story? Not only does he have to please the high priest, the council and the legal experts, even his spouse has something to say about this trial. We don’t know how she has “suffered in a dream because of him” but she has made her wishes clear to Pilate.
We all have found ourselves in a situation that could be called “between a rock and a hard place.” No matter which thing you do or say, someone is not going to be happy with you.
When churches first were required to create a Safe Sanctuary policy and do background checks on all staff and volunteers that work with children, I was the voice of the Annual Conference that had to make it happen. I often felt like that. Pastors said, “Sweet Mrs. Smith has taught kindergarten for 20 years. She’ll quit if we tell her we’ve got to do a background check on her!” or “Chuck has worked with the youth since he graduated from high school. We all know him and the kids love him. He’d never abuse anyone!” But here’s the reality: we all have a responsibility to keep children safe. More than 25 years later, we’re still working toward that goal.
Rocks and hard places don’t mean we give up and wash our hands like Pilate did (though you should be doing that frequently). Sometimes we have to make tough decisions. We have to face head-on the responsibilities that are ours, responsibilities to protect and defend the weakest among us. How sad that no one was willing to do that for Jesus – an innocent man!
By Kathleen Stolz
For Pondering & Prayer
As parents, we often face making decisions that our children don’t like. As employees or employers, we may have to make decisions that don’t please everyone. Ask God to help in your decision making, and then acknowledge to those involved that you made your decision based on the common good.
Prayer: Gracious One, as we remember the journey of Jesus to the cross, we acknowledge the many people who contributed to his death, and we forgive them as we know he did. We ask your forgiveness for those occasions when we made our decisions based on self-interest instead of protecting the weak and promoting the common good. Amen.