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PASSING THE BUCK
"But they were vehement.’ He is stirring up unrest among the people with His teaching, disturbing the peace everywhere, starting in Galilee and now all through Judea. He is a dangerous man, endangering the peace.'
"When Pilate heard that, he asked, 'So, He's a Galilean?' Realising that He properly came under Herod's jurisdiction, he passed the buck to Herod, who just happened to be in Jerusalem for a few days." Luke 23:5-7 (The Message).
How convenient for Pilate! Herod was responsible for governing Galilee. Jesus was a Galilean. Herod "happened" to be in town. Pilate must have heaved a sigh of relief. Jesus was a "hot potato" and he did not want to handle Him. Was it "Providence" that organised the circumstances to let him off the hook?
How does one go about finding reliable witnesses in a crowd of volatile people who were so stirred up by their religious leaders that any tiny spark could set the whole mob on fire?
Their accusations against Jesus were touching raw spots in Pilate's mind. His role in Judea was to keep the peace by enforcing Rome's domination. The Roman overlords, represented by the military, did whatever was necessary to suppress rebellion by oppressing the people. The gospels give hints of Roman cruelty even at the instigation of Pilate. On one occasion he ordered the murder of worshippers in the temple. Any sign of insurrection was ruthlessly crushed. Jewish blood flowed for very little reason and yet, Pilate was reluctant to deal with Jesus.
What was it about the man that caused him to hesitate to pronounce Him guilty and pass the death sentence to appease the Jewish leaders? One more dead Jew would be one less troublemaker for him. But somehow he couldn't do it because of the man!
He had never had a prisoner like Jesus. Every time he looked at Him, he felt guilt overwhelming him. The man's eyes bored into him like a laser beam, exposing the deepest secrets of his heart, and yet he felt, not condemned but loved. How was it possible for a "rabble-rouser" to arouse such mixed emotions in him? He was drawn and repelled at the same time. He wanted to love Him in return but he was supposed to be indifferent, just there to do a job.
It was a relief to have Herod in Jerusalem as a back-up. Let him handle Jesus. After all, He was his responsibility because He was a Galilean. And so Pilate hoped that his brief encounter with this man would end and be forgotten.
Would Pilate be able to shake Jesus off that easily? He did not know that he had been brought face-to-face with the man who would one day be his judge. Destiny had caused their paths to cross for one brief moment but, unknown to him; it was a dress rehearsal for a much greater encounter in the future. Passing the buck seemed a simple solution to his dilemma but he was to learn that he could not evade his responsibility then, just as he would not evade his accountability on Judgment Day.
That was not only Pilate's moment. It will be ours as well. "Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people, and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him." Hebrews 9:27-28 (NIV).
To those who have recognised who He is and have willingly given Him the reins, His coming will be the most joyous occasion ever. For those who tried to get rid of Him, there will be the inevitable consequences of their rejection. This is not a threat to garner supporters. This is the sober truth that warns of the outcome of cutting ties with our Creator and trying to establish our own rebellious rule.
We have to learn, like Pilate, that we cannot pass the buck. Accountability is inevitable. There is no such thing as all religions worshipping the same God; all roads do not lead to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. There cannot be more that one Lord, and God has declared the Jesus is Lord and to Him every knee will bow!
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