5. Jesus is judged by Pilate
Leader: We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
All: Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.
Quiet moment of asking: “that I might, present to this scene, know how Jesus remains courageous during his questioning by Pilate, and ponder on the behaviour of Pilate in this episode”.
We listen to the words of Mark’s gospel and see how Pilate judged Jesus.
First thing in the morning, the chief priests, together with the elders and scribes and the rest of the Sanhedrin, had their plan ready. They had Jesus bound and took him away and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate put to him this question,“Are you the king of the Jews?” He replied, “It is you who say it.” And the chief priests brought many accusations against him. Pilate questioned him again, “Have you no reply at all? See how many accusations they are bringing against you!” But, to Pilate’s surprise, Jesus made no further reply... So Pilate, wishing to placate the crowd, released Barrabas... [and] handed [Jesus] over to be crucified.
Mark 15: 1-5, 15
NOTICE – A silent contemplation moment
Become aware of how you feel about Pontius Pilate at this moment. How does Jesus look at him? If you picture the scene, even become a participant in this event, an onlooker or an official, what do you notice about how Pilate responds to Jesus? He is interested; there is something about the quiet courage of Jesus that surprises him and impresses him. Do you recognise that in yourself? Now? Or at some other time in your past?
Good and gracious God, the encounter with Jesus was a moment that Pilate had looked forward to because he, like all of us, are attracted to Jesus, often without realising it or understanding it. When we contemplate him in the Gospels, we see how many people felt that attraction; drawn to him by his courage, his authority, his integrity although also, some came looking for miracles and spectacular tricks. This is still true for us. Sometimes we look for illusions and stunts. Yet, under the surface, we are drawn to your Son and drawn to the fullness of life that he offers.
But Pilate could not see it through to the end. He caved in to the demands of the crowd and tried to excuse himself. At the end of the day, the charity and mercy that Jesus preached was too far away from what he wanted to be to the crowd – a strong man, a powerful political ruler. He could not escape that, but it is possible that, eventually, even he did. That Roman Governor knew that Jesus was innocent but he was afraid of the crowds. He did not have enough courage but Jesus had all the courage in the world.
Pilate was not a very strong man here but at other times he was a bully; like all bullies he tried to cover up how weak he really felt and, probably, he did not like himself very much for this.
Continue to give us the grace, Lord, to see past those outward things that we sometimes hide behind, to accept what is good and true, because it comes from you.
Together we pray; Lord, we want to walk beside you in your suffering. Forgive us; and help us to see you in the suffering of the poor.