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A Willing Death

April 17, 2017

Pilate tried to let Jesus go not a few times and he had good reasons for it. Here are a few instances: right at the beginning when he enquired (about the charge against Jesus) he clearly discerned that Jesus hadn’t done anything worthy of death, that the true reason he’d been handed over was jealousy, that the accusations never really added up, that there was something odd and disturbing about Jesus’ claim/accusation that he was the Son of God (Pilate feared about spiritual implications), Pilate’s own wife had warned him against doing anything to this good man for she had suffered a great deal in a dream on account of Jesus. So Pilate repeatedly even offered concessions to the Jews to let Jesus off at least as the customary prisoner gone free, or even flogged and then allowed to go. He even sent him off to Herod to be tried, only to be returned as innocent. He even finally washed his hands in symbolic lack of responsibility over the shedding of a good man’s blood. Finally even Jesus seemed to allay Pilate’s fears in turning a blind eye to this injustice not so much as overlooking it, but as holding those who handed Jesus over to Pilate (the Jews, his own) as more culpable. For when Pilate questioned Jesus’ doubt about Pilate’s own power/sovereignty to release Jesus, Jesus made it harder for Pilate to reckon it as an assault on his bruised ego by holding the Jews responsible, i.e. for Pilate to want to set Jesus free and yet not be able to do it for the Jews’ adamance (not really an acquittal of Pilate, but a more precise order of culpability). Pilate muted his seared conscience, abandoned his share of responsibility and abandoned Jesus. For Jesus it was mission accomplished.

And so Jesus willingly laid down his life…

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