The man who couldn’t make up his mind
April 5, 2007
The man who couldn’t make up his mind


by Bishop Sonny E. Williams – Presiding Bishop
Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies
(St. Vincent and the Grenadines District)

Pontius Pilate was a powerful man as he had at his disposal considerable military power. He was the only one with the power to put Jesus to death. The Jews were allowed to exercise this traditional religious and civil code of law but were not allowed to sentence anyone to death. If Caiaphas, the Jewish Chief Priest, wanted to execute Jesus, he had to persuade Pilate that such a course of action was in the obvious interest of the empire or of Pilate – or both. Pilate was a powerful man indeed everything depended on his judgment.{{more}}

Ironically, the Gospels depict Pilate as the weakest of the characters. He was skillfully and relatively easily manipulated by Caiaphas, who presented Jesus to him not as a blasphemer, but as a potential threat to the Roman Government, a dangerous insurgent. Caiaphas blinded Pilate with these words: “If you release this man, you are no friend of the emperor” (John 19:12)

Like so many people in positions of political power, Pilate is a man with a past that haunts him, an Achilles heel that occasionally forced him to limp. And as Caiaphas uttered those carefully chosen words the Achilles heel began to twinge. Pilate has all the armed might of Rome theoretically at his fingertips, yet his hands are tied by his history of political misjudgment and Caiaphas’ willingness to exploit it. In practice he knew Jesus must die or pay the political price. Integrity does not come cheap, and Pilate can’t afford it. His final maneuver is to avoid being seen to have made any decision at all. He tried to convince himself and the crowds that he is neutral in this affair and that he was lending aid to the cause of those who wanted to put Jesus to death. He literally washed his hands of the situation.

It was so easy and attractive to hide from responsibility behind the wishes of the crowds. The irony is that Pilate’s sin of complicity in political murder is remembered in the Christian’s Creed: “Crucified Under Pontius Pilate”.

Perhaps there are many burning issues that are beckoning your involvement in a cause, your taking a position on an issue or making a stand against wrong, the comfortable saddle of neutrality will not ease the disturbing prick of our consciences, that we are all responsible for our thoughts, feelings and actions.

As we celebrate Easter, we too are faced with the inescapable question; “What should I do with this Jesus?” Perhaps we are convinced about his claims and feel compelled to take a stand; but in counting the cost of doing so we find it to be high. So instead, we make excuses and adopt the non-threatening position of neutrality and put the decision on ice. The fact is, it didn’t work for Pilate, and it won’t work for us.

The Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies, St. Vincent and the Grenadines District, extends Easter greetings to the Nation. May you all experience the joy and power of the Resurrection.