“Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, ‘You brought me this Man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining Him before you, behold, I did not find this Man guilty of any of your charges against Him. … Nothing deserving death has been done by Him. I will therefore punish and release Him.'”(Luke 23:13-14, 15b, 16 ESV)
“I will therefore punish and release Him”—what is that about? Pilate publicly admits Jesus is innocent. But he’s not going to just let Him go. He’s going to scourge Him, which is a level of pain that some people don’t live through. How is this justice?
It isn’t, of course. But Pilate’s relationship with the people has always been stormy. If he lets Jesus go, he may have a riot on his hands, and have to call out the army. If things get bad enough, the Roman emperor will recall him—and that could mean his own death.
Pilate decides to sacrifice Jesus. Better that than sacrificing himself, he thinks.
This is horrifying. And yet—who among us can say that we have never done wrong because we were afraid? It’s so easy, isn’t it—to keep silent when we should speak, to sit still and let someone else suffer, because we know what will happen to us if we get involved.
Cowardice is a sin—and yet, there is hope for us, in Jesus. He knows exactly what is in our hearts, and loves us just the same. His own courageous love drove Him to lay down His life for us, going as far as death on a cross. And now that He has risen from the dead, He calls us to Himself. Those who trust in Him receive the Holy Spirit, who is our courage and hope and joy—Jesus living through us.
Prayer: Lord, be my courage when I am afraid. Amen.
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on April 6, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
* When is the last time you heard someone praise courage as a virtue?
* Tell about a time in your own life when you were afraid to do what you knew was right.
* How did Jesus help you at that time?