enter Pilate | John 18.28-29
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them. John 18:28-29 | ESV
Passed from Annas to Caiaphas, Jesus is now passed from Caiaphas to Roman jurisdiction: he is sent to the praetorium – the local Roman capitol building, the headquarters of all judicial and administrative governmental functions. And the Jewish council members delivering Jesus into Roman hands wouldn’t dare put their religious purity at risk by entering heathen halls with their prisoner (they didn’t want to miss out on the Passover!). So the Roman governor, Pilate (“spear chucker” or “cloud capped”), went out to them. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
There were at least four halls of power in which Jesus stood on his last day.
And back again.
John skips the legal posturing of the “trial” before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, and the political posturing of Jesus’ appearance before Herod. Caiaphas might have been high priest that year, but Annas was the power broker. And Pilate was the gatekeeper of life and death under the law. No matter how he tried to evade that responsibility, it clung to him. He clung to him.
So little we know about this man, this Pilate. In fact, most of what we do know about him we know from these pages of John’s Gospel. What we do gather from history outside these pages is that he was a politician, he was a pragmatist, and he could be ruthless. “Spear Chucker” as a meaning for his name would seem quite appropriate. But then, judging from what we see here, so does the alternate proposed meaning “Cloud Capped.”
All is not as clear as we think.
We tend to be so dualistic in how we weigh and view one another – or ourselves for that matter. Gathering up the other historical breadcrumbs about Pilate, many assemble the whole loaf and call it quite moldy, scoffing at John’s glimpse into a more layered human being. But we are all layered, and even the most brutal can be stopped in their tracks and reveal some yet lingering humanity.
A thoughtful glance at these passion pages will reveal our own face in these faces.
The betrayed and abused Jesus; scared and fleeing disciples; the religious types so careful to step around ritual defilement in the very act of murder; and the political pragmatist wanting to stay aloof who has a very hard time indeed not letting this Jesus in.
Whose face today is God challenging you to move beyond the surface, beyond the caricature of them carried in your mind’s eye, and to really see?
Lord, deliver me from snap judgments and cursory dismissals, and give me your eyes to see others today – to really see them. Through Jesus.