PILATE – the seeker of truth?
“What is truth?” asked by Pilate has been a cry of mankind since the dawn of time. Man has been searching for the truth, about themselves, about their creator, about life after death. Some claim Pilate to be a seeker of truth. However, history tells us that this was no seeker of truth rather a very cruel ruler, a politician bend on maintaining Roman power by the cruelest means including crucifixion. He was intrigued by Jesus, and kept him under interrogation seemingly eager to see the Jewish leaders begging him to put Jesus to death. He had no inclination to seek truth, but was curious how the Jews, his protagonists, were so adamant that Jesus was a treat to them, to their power base. Could this Jesus be a treat to him as well, another religious leader to be brutally suppressed!. At the end it was Pilate (not the Jewish leaders) who wrote “Jesus, King of the Jews” at the cross, to mock the Jewish leaders and also a declaration of his power. He was no saint seeking truth. Like Pilate many have asked “what is the truth”, not that spiritual truths are important, but to declare that the practical truth is all that matters – the reality of their intellect, power, wealth and image, i.e., the truth works for them. – in case of Pilate to determine life and death, to send Jesus to His death. They too missed, Jesus Christ their Messiah, THE TRUTH.
PILATE, PONTIUS was Roman governor of Judea remembered in history as a notorious anti-Semite and in Christian creeds as the magistrate under whom Jesus Christ "suffered" (1 Tim 6:13). The New Testament refers to him as "governor," while other sources call him "procurator" or "prefect". Pilate came to power about A.D. 26, close to the time when two of his contemporaries, Sejanus in Rome and Flaccus in Egypt, were pursuing policies apparently aimed at the destruction of the Jewish people. Pilate's policies were much the same. His procuratorship consisted of one provocation of Jewish sensibilities after another. He broke all precedent by bringing into Jerusalem military insignia bearing the image of Caesar in flagrant defiance of Jewish law. He removed them only when the Jews offered to die at the hands of his soldiers rather than consent to such blasphemy. He brutally suppressed protest by planting armed soldiers, disguised as civilians, among the Jewish crowds.
For centuries, there has been a debate over the existence of a historical Pilate. The first physical evidence for his existence was discovered in 1961, when a block of limestone was found in the Roman theatre at Caesarea Palaestina, the capital of the province of Judea, bearing a damaged dedication by Pilate of a Tiberieum. Most of the information about Pilate comes from the accounts of Johephus in Antiquities of the Jews. In approximately AD 36, Pilate used arrests and executions to quash a Samaritan religious procession in arms that may have been interpreted as an uprising . Pilate's behavior was so offensive to the morals of the time, that after complaints to the Roman legate of Syria, Pilate was recalled to Rome. The exact date and cause of death of Pilate is not confirmed. It is rumored that Pilate fell under misfortunes in the reign of Caligula (AD 37 - 41), was exiled to Gaul and eventually committed suicide there, in Vienne. The Nicene Creed, incorporated the clause “was crucified under Pontius Pilate” to state the belief in Jesus as a real person, living in a precise moment and place, i.e. a Historical Jesus. The Coptic Orthodox Church celebrates Pilate and Saint Procula together on 25 June. Claudia Procula is commemorated as Saint Procula, instead of Pilate, because in the Gospel accounts Claudia urged Pilate to have nothing to do with Jesus.
In Israel, there were three parties, Pilate, the Jewish Leaders, and Jesus. The Pharisees still concerned to maintain their reputation would not want to kill Jesus who have a very large following even amongst its own ranks (eg Nicodemus). They could have sentenced Jesus to death by stoning. Yet, they cleverly chose to send Jesus to Pilate knowing that he would deal harshly to any hint of rebellion and much so if this Jesus claimed to be the King. Then, Pilate would get the blame from the populace. Being a politician, Pilate knew very well the intention of the Pharisees but not acting would set a bad precedence and reduced his authority and reputation.
Shifting the onus back to the Pharisees, he declared Jesus to be innocent and in a brilliant move forced them to make a decision whether to crucify Jesus, or to release Barabas, a known criminal. Those who claim that Christianity is just a Jewish sect or from the Jewish religion has chosen to ignore that Jesus claimed He was God, whereas the Jews dare not even proclaim or write down God’ name in case it will be considered sinful. Yes, God has chosen the nation of Israel, to be the seed from which Jesus would be born through and the nations of the world be blessed as a result. But, it is not something to be envious of, as it comes with a great responsibility and ultimately the Jews killed the Messiah on our behalf whom they have been waiting for a thousand years.
Pilate is represented in all the Gospels as questioning Jesus especially on the subject of kingship, but he remained unconvinced that Jesus was in any way a serious claimant to Jewish or Roman political power. The inscription he insisted on placing over the cross according to all the Gospels was Pilate's last grim joke at Jewish expense: "This is the King of the Jews." Anti-Jewish to the end, Pilate was telling the world, "What a sorry race this is, with such a pitiful figure for their king!"
Pilate could not help being sarcastic and mocked at Jesus. In essence, he was saying “You call yourself King, are you sure?”, with Jesus standing in front of him, in chains, and after being beaten by the Jews and his guards. This man calling himself king, yet his very life was in his hands. The physical reality with all reasoning and wisdom would suggest that Jesus to beg for clemency. Those who are carnal minded and do not believe in the spiritual reality of God have molded God into their limited mind and have boxed up God into their limited reality. There are no miracles, no spiritual beings such as angels, or demons they cry. Everything must be scientifically explained they assert. They have become idols where the center of the world revolves around them and truths become dependent upon what works for them. Because they do not have faith to believe, the miracles of the bible have been denied, even the creation of mankind as a folklore. They have summarized God to just one word “love”, not understanding that “God is love” rather than “love is God”. Jesus did not reject Pilate despite his very arrogant attitude. Jesus replied that He is the King but not of this world, and only those who see the spiritually reality rather than dwelling in the flesh will understand the truth that He is declaring, that He is the King, the Messiah, the saviour of Israel.
In the presence of God, in Christ Jesus, Jesus was speaking to Pilate, at a heart to heart level. But for Pilate, all that mattered, was power, and wealth and that was the truth for him that matters that Jesus was not a treat to him in any way. That was the truth for him, his reality, but not THE TRUTH. The concept of a king having no earthly kingdom, but one that is established in the heavens was just too far fetch for Pilate. How can this man claimed to be God that the Pharisees wanted to kill Him, and the only way to Father God?. For many, their truth must be understood, felt, proven, and reasonable, and within their tradition, culture, and history. Is unreasonable say many that Jesus should be the only way to God!, so utterly exclusive, so explained away the bible as a politically motivated document written very well after Jesus’ death or not as an eye witness account or as a good story.
Obviously, Jesus’ death at the cross will be redundant if He was not the only way to God. If other religions can be the ways to God including the Roman and Greek religions being predominant, then there would not be a need for Jesus to die for you and me. Christianity is not any faith community, it is not faith in a good teacher, it is a unique faith that God Himself came down, suffered, and died for us, and rose again on the third day. There is no other religion that would come close to daring to claim such an audacious event. Even for the Jews whose scripture tells them of the coming of the Messiah missed the God moment. Many have tried to dispute the historical standing of the Book of John because the centrality of Christ requires too much for them to believe. But the Jews understood clearly Jesus claim to be the Son of God, and the Messiah, to be the way to God, and played their part in sending Jesus to His death. Inadvertently, their acts ushered in His death and resurrection, hence salvation to those who believed. It takes faith, to believe in Jesus Christ as the truth, the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. When we consider truths if it works for us, then the centrality of our faith is not in Christ but in us. We worship ourselves and become an idol. Alternately, when we fail to see Jesus as the core revelation of the bible from the old to the New testament, and concentrate on works and obedience to the law like the Jews, we fare no better, for we worship our abilities or works, and make ourselves and the bible idols.
We need to return to God today and not continue to walk in our ways, which may work for us, and may be morally acceptable and appreciated in this world as being a good man, but to God it is wickedness for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But God because of Christ will forgive and pardon those who come to Him. We need faith, for THE truth that Jesus proclaims is not with wisdom of this world. God’s ways in sending Jesus to die for us and to raise again on the third day, the countless miracles which he performed cannot be comprehended naturally. We are reminded that it was in this context that Isaiah reminds us that the heavenly or the spiritually realm is far higher and different than the fleshly and natural realm and His ways and thoughts are much higher than our ways. We have tried to pull heaven down to our level and the level of our mind and understanding, but God would have none of that. He sent Jesus as rain from heaven, as a seed to reap the harvest of bread that we may eat what we have not sowed and lived in the abundance of God’s grace and mercy, and that we need no money i.e. the works of our hands to buy. He word of God has come forth from God’s mouth, Jesus is the WORD of God, the epitome of truth, the revelation of the bible, the fulfillment of God’s laws, and our savior. He will not return to heaven void, but will bring back a new family those who are in Christ, part of His spiritual family where He is King.
Pilate and the Jews put Jesus to death at the cross. We put to the cross that which treatenes us. The mainstream Christians put Gays at the cross because they fear that the acceptance of gays will treatened their interpretation of the bible. Many governments put Gays at the cross because they fear that acceptance will result in lost of votes. We fear what we do not understand and outside the norm. Gays put Christianity at the cross because it comes against them even though God is not against them. One day, judgement will be severe against Christian leaders who came against the Gay community and stopped them from entering God' house. History will jugded them unkindly. The lesson for any seeker of God, is not to let of personnel objections, fears, and discomfort or self interest lead us to act unwisely. Otherwise we too will be like Pilate, and be known as the one who killed God. We can't kill God again for Jesus have died and rosed again once and for all, but we can surely kill the move of God to bring in an inclusive Church before His second coming.
Are you part of God’s family? Pilate nailed the sign "Jesus, the King of Jews" which annoyed the Jews to no end. They did not want to believe Jesus as their Messiah, they refused to see the miracles that he performed even though it occured right in front of them. What sign boards would you put up? The Liberals would put up a sign saying "Jesus, a great man" whereby all religions lead to God because they feel that there is no absolute way or truths even Jesus' resurrection may be imagined they claimed. The Conservatives would put up the sign "Jesus, our judge" for they feel that obedience to the law is important. Ultimately, each of us have to come to a point of decision to decide whether Jesus is a madman or that He is truly who He claimed to be He is, i.e. our God, our Saviour, the truth and the only way to God through His grace and mercy that man have yearned for so long far above the political world of power that Pilate was in, or the religious view of the world that the Jews had.
What would a Gay Christian nail as the sign board. It would be very simple:-
"Jesus, thankyou for accepting me as who I am when no one did You were rejected, that I may be accepted into your family."