political maneuvering | John 18.29-32
So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. John 18:29-32 | ESV
“What charge do you bring against this man?” he demanded.
They equivocated in their response. “Trust us. If this man weren’t a lawbreaker, we wouldn’t have brought him to you.”
Pilate would have none of it. “This is your business, not mine. Handle this yourselves in your own court.”
“But we can’t execute anyone legally,” they objected.
All of this political maneuvering was only setting the stage for Jesus to die the way he had been saying and picturing it would happen all along. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“In fact they did meet – Herod and Pontius Pilate with nations and peoples, even Israel itself! – met in this very city to plot against your holy Son Jesus, the One you made Messiah, to carry out the plans you long ago set in motion.” (Acts 4:27-28)
What an intriguing dance this – human posturing and plotting meeting on the same dance floor with Divine purpose.
I do not understand that.
But there it is.
Greed, betrayal, fear, cold calculation, sly equivocation, political manipulation resulting more in cacophony than symphony, more UFC bloodbath than graceful dance, leaving us wanting to retch in disgust – but the Divine motion is here. Not despite, not in spite, but through these raw, jagged thrusts themselves.
This is nothing new to any thoughtful observer of the sweeping Old Testament narrative. Yes, there are bright stars of faith, hope and love in the biblical story, but they shine in a dark night sky of lies, intrigue, betrayal, abuse, and murder. Game of Thrones enjoys immense popularity in our current culture, while others cluck their tongues calling it exploitative, violent, sexist, explicit, and dark – a story “corrosive to the soul.” And yet that is precisely how I hear others reacting to the biblical story as they turn their noses up at the Old Testament.
What other kind of story can there be when human beings are involved?
Oh, we can make believe nicer stories with nicer people and nicer endings. But God doesn’t do his work through nice stories. Mostly. The Divine Mystery dances in our cacophonous, dark, brooding mess.
Which is very good news indeed – since few of us have nice stories to tell.
How do you reconcile divine purpose and sovereignty with the unpredictable movements of human will and initiative? Does this tension bring you comfort or just leave you with a theological headache?
Abba, when my heart gets trashed by yet another heart-rending human drama, help me to trust – and to wait for – the divine movement in the midst of it. Through Christ.