Reflectionary

Pontius Pilate

(Third in the series.)

It was early in the morning when my servant came to wake me. There were many people at the door, he said, and they wanted to talk to me. This Jewish festival has brought so many people into the city, I wasn’t surprised to be disturbed before my usual hour, but I was aware of a disturbing mood in the air. My usually unflappable man seemed worried.

We went out to the courtyard, and there I saw a man, bound and tied, surrounded by the Jewish priests and scribes and their slaves. One came and whispered to me, “We have looked for a way to convict this man, but we cannot find it. Those who testify against him do not agree. But he continues to call himself King of the Jews!!”

And so I asked him—this gentle-looking man, simply dressed, dirty from the treatment he had received at their hands—I asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?”

“So you say,” he answered. The priests accused him of many things, but he stood silent and strangely peaceful. And so I asked him, “Have you no answer to all these charges they bring against you?” He did not speak.

It has been my practice during the Festival to release a prisoner for the Jews, any prisoner they wish. Quite a crowd had gathered, and I asked them, “Do you wish me to release this…King…of the Jews?” “No, no,” they shouted. And I realized they were jealous of him. They asked me instead to release Barabbas, who had been a hero of an insurrection in the city. “What would you have me do, then, with this King of yours?”

{Voice in the crowd: Crucify him!!}

Why? What evil has he done?

{And more voices join in, shouting Crucify him!! Finally Pilate raises his hands to quiet the crowd.}

It shall be as you wish. Flog him, and then take him to be crucified.

Why would they want crucifixion for him? Truly, there can be no more shameful death. Common criminals die on the cross. And yet I said to them, “It shall be as you wish.” It was their wish that he die that way, not mine. But I was afraid to stop it.

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