Covid19 has us stuck at home preparing for Easter… but we can mark each day with devotion. Click here if you missed a past day’s reading.
Ezekiel announced at dinner, “I used to be afraid of the turtains!”
“What is a turtain?”
“You know, they have a bar and the blinds…”
“Yes, turtains, I used to be afraid until Darcy got her light.” (Lava lamp they leave on at night.)
We are all afraid of something. Sometimes it just takes a lava lamp to help overcome our fears. But other times life is scary. As the numbers of Covid19 mount, the CDC now recommends wearing face masks. So I masked up to go into the grocery store for milk. Most everyone was wearing masks or gloves or both. At checkout the floor was taped to keep everyone separated, and the bagger was constantly spraying disinfectant… this is a scary time. And we should follow the recommendations: stay home, distance ourselves, and wear a mask… but we don’t have to be overcome by fear. Take Courage. In this moment there are still good tasks for each of us. (Like door dropping Peeps!)
Pilate knew it was “out of self interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him” (v10). But the crowd was ready to riot. This was a real concern. But Pilot was overcome by fear and sacrificed good.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful til it became risky.” — my favorite CS Lewis quote, Screwtape Letters, p104
Deeper: “But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.” Why? Certainly the Chief Priests wanted rid of Jesus, but why Barabbas. And what motivated the crowd toward Barabbas? It is right there in the text, “Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.”
The Jews believed the Messiah would come to set them free (which is true). But they viewed this through nationalist lens: they were the people of God, they resided in the promised land… They believed the Messiah would lead a movement to throw out their enemies and the Jews would again rule.
Riding the colt into Jerusalem Jesus declared himself to be the Messiah, but he wasn’t acting to set the people free from Rome. The crowd wanted a victor. OR at least someone who tried to achieve their goals. Like an insurrectionist, who committed murder… the chief priest found their alternative.