Living in the D.C. area for five years now has made me more aware of power—the way it is used well and the way it is sometimes not used well or even abused. Pontius Pilate is a person who had a great deal of power. He is thrust into a difficult situation as the Jewish leaders ask him to sentence Jesus to death. They are convinced Jesus has blasphemed God by calling himself the Son of God.
Pilate goes into Jesus and asks Jesus, “Where are you from?” When Jesus does not answer, Pilate asserts his authority making clear he has the power to release Jesus or to crucify him. Jesus answered him, “You would have no power over me unless it had been given you from above.”
Though Jesus did suffer under a religious and political system that was seemingly spinning out of control, let us be clear: Jesus was not a victim. Jesus does not have his life taken from him by the power of another. He never stops being the Lord of the universe who is always in control. What we see is remarkable power and self-control in Jesus who chooses to willingly give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:46). I think of his words from John 10:14-15, 18.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep…. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.
As we prepare to begin Holy Week and walk with Jesus all the way to the cross, let us be amazed by his love and his sacrifice. Let us be filled with gratitude for the way he took our sin on himself that we might be dead to sin and alive to God. Let us wonder at the God of the universe exercising his unlimited power and authority to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. And let us confess any ways that we are misusing power and ask God to make us the kind of people who use any power God has given us to love, to bless, to heal.