Pontius Pilate, the military commander of the occupational forces that oversaw the administration of Judea was governor when Jesus was crucified. As prefect he had the authority to implement justice and had made the political decision to have Jesus flogged and crucified. Ironically, Pilate attempted to hide the truth about his involvement by washing his hands in front of the crowd symbolically declaring that he was clean of all responsibility. Those watching knew the truth; Pilate had a role. Why did he try to distance himself from Jesus’ execution? Was he troubled by the words Jesus spoke earlier when he stated “everyone on the side of the truth listens to me?” Was Pilate actually looking for truth when he replied to Jesus “what is the truth” or was he being sarcastic? What is the truth surrounding Jesus? Do you know someone who needs to hear that truth?
A well know Jewish writer and historian, Titus Flavius Josephus, wrote several accounts of Pilate’s life in Judea and referred to him as a vindictive individual with a furious temper. He believed he was in control of his life. Although it was probably his family connection to the senate that got him his appointment in Judea, Jesus reminded Pilate that it was God who gave him power over Him for the purpose of revealing the truth about God. Next week we celebrate some of the events surrounding the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry including the meeting with Pilate. Celebrate seems an odd word to use as it suggests some sort of party. We know that as His week neared its end, He was taken prisoner, brutalized and hung on a cross to die. So why would we celebrate? Celebrate also means to remember, solemnize, or commemorate and because of what happened at the end of the week, it also means to proclaim and we proclaim the truths and promises shared by Jesus. At the end of the week He defeats death and rises to show His followers that He was speaking the truth when He said He came from the Father to tell the good news about His kingdom. He rose and reminded all that our individual efforts to reconcile with the Father fall short and that belief in His saving sacrifice is what is needed. He rose to ascend to the Father to prepare for His second coming when all who belive will be brought to the Father’s kingdom for all eternity. We celebrate because of the truth.
Many of us have friends who need to hear Jesus’ story. You could invite a friend to a movie night and show one of the many good versions of Jesus story. Netflix has The Passion of the Christ and The Gospel of John (NIV and KJV version). There is also The Jesus Film and the 2003 Gospel of John. Hollywood has made many movies that are less accurate but will get a conversation about Jesus started; movies such as Ben Hur, The Robe or even Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. There is a truth about Easter that needs to be shared with our family and friends. Maybe this is the Easter season that some may ask you “What is the truth?” and you should be ready to share. Pray the Holy Spirit prepares the heart of someone you know to hear Jesus’ truth this week. Also, pray and ask God to use you to help someone understand the truth behind the celebration.