“…and he (Pontius Pilate) entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, ‘Where are you from?’ But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to him, ‘You do not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you, and I have authority to crucify you? Jesus answered, ‘You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above, therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.’ From then on Pilate tried to release him, but the Jews cried out, ‘If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor. Everyone who claims to be a king sets himself against the emperor.’” (Jn 19: 9-12)
It’s Friday, once again, the day of our Lord’s crucifixion. So I will reflect a bit on the tragic figure of Pontius Pilate. On the one hand, Pilate is no super-villain. After all, Pilate “tried to release Him.” We can see that Pilate is conflicted; that his conscience is telling him that his Prisoner has “no fault.”
Nonetheless, he finally caves in to the demands of the Jews, against his own conscience, because ultimately, Pilate’s top priority was his own position; his “office.” He is concerned with asserting it, and he’s concerned with keeping it. Note that the accent in Pilate’s question, “You do not speak to me?” is on the “me.” He is blinded by his own “pride of office” to the Higher Authority speaking to him through his conscience, through his wife’s dream (Mt 27: 19), and through the Prisoner Himself, Who reminds Pilate of the authority “from above.”
Let me remind myself today, whatever position or bit of authority I may possess, - either in my profession, in my community, or in my family, - not to be blinded to Christ, Who may be standing before me and speaking to me through someone who does not have my position or bit of authority. Let me recognize the One Source of Authority, and hear His voice in all my actions and attitudes toward anyone I encounter today.