1Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.” 3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” 5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.” 6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Luke 23:1-7
With Jesus’ arrest it would seem that darkness wins. Now we read of a trial. In the dark of the night the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court, meets and a decision is made to condemn Jesus. Although a late night trial is against Jewish law, they aren’t concerned about following the law. We read in vs. 1, “then the whole assembly rose…” At the first hint of dawn, when it was legal to meet, they go to see Pilate. They want Jesus killed, and only the Romans have the authority for an execution.
This is how sin works. Sin operates in the shadows and denies responsibility. Sin always wants to deflect attention away from itself. The Sanhedrin meets in the night. Then they approach Pilate. Pilate only sees Jesus’ innocence. We read of half-truths (vs. 2 and vs. 5) spoken, and Pilate looks for a way out of this situation. He hears that Herod Antipas, his rival for authority, is in town. Herod is the ruler over Galilee, Jesus’ home base. Pilate sends Jesus to him as an easy out from making the hard decision.
We live in this same kind of world. Just like the Sanhedrin and Pilate, we also want to hide in the shadows. We want to blame, play victim, and deny our own sinful nature. It is natural to do so. Jesus embraces this kind of world because He loves us. In all of His innocence, He chooses to love the deceivers and blamers and deniers, and all of us who promote our own agendas.
The innocent Jesus stands in the dark of night before the Jewish Sanhedrin, and then the Roman Pilate, and then the Herodian Herod Antipas. Each seeks to preserve his own authority by harming Jesus, but He stands before them without resistance.
For your Lenten Reflection: How do you blame? Where do you play victim? Each of us does this. We are just like the Sanhedrin struggling for control and self-preservation.
Dear God, forgive us for our readiness to blame and not take responsibility. Create us into your children who are willing to own our sin and thereby receive your mercy and forgiveness. In Christ’s name. Amen.