Sunday

“Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus said, ‘You say so.’ But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he did not answer. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear the many accusations they make against you?’ But he gave no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was amazed.” (vv. 11-14)

Matthew 27:11-54 Sunday 9 April 2017

Psalm: Psalm 31:9-16


Background

Today's passage records the final chaotic spiral of events onJesus' last day, his crucifixion, and the immediate chaoticaftermath of his death. These events show the exercise of raw poweragainst one man. A web of innuendo and hearsay was spun together tomake a public truth of Jesus' guilt. Here is proper 'fake news,' acobbled together tale told by officials to be re-told by the mob,then accepted and authorised as the will of the majority. Pilatewould literally wash his hands as he gave the verdict for death(verses 24-25), bowing to what he might in contemporary languagehave called 'the democratic voice of the people'.

During their last supper the night before, one of Jesus' innercircle had betrayed his location for money: Jesus was arrested.Today's passage begins at dawn the following morning. Having putJesus through a sham trial overnight, the officials of the highpriest now delivered him to the Roman governor Pilate. AlthoughRome was the highest power, the empire set up and supported localleaders to administer religious life and other local issues. Withtheir position coming from Rome, they had powerful incentive toprotect the empire, and with it, their own small measure ofautonomy.

The high priest had been unable to find credible witnessesagainst Jesus, and Pilate similarly found no credible case againsthim except the condemnation of Caiaphas the high priest. Pilateoffered Jesus the chance to refute the charges: the text called him"amazed" at Jesus' silence.

We live today in a media market where those in political poweroften seek to discredit others, eroding public trust to allow themto remake truth. Discrediting traditional authorities and sourcesof news, power can control public opinion. Rumour told to a mob,retold and authorised as the voice of the people: our passage showsexactly this in Jesus' condemnation. Jesus' silence in the face ofthis clamour amazed Pilate, and should still amaze contemporaryhalls of power. Truth needed no defence that day; it had no defenceto make.


To Ponder

  • Do you think public opinion should always carry authority?Why?
  • How do you decide what news to trust, and what to take with apinch of salt?
  • Why do you think Jesus was silent in front of Pilate?


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