It’s ironic that the very ‘peace’ Pilate is so keen to preserve is threatened by the very chaos he causes in making Jesus into a ‘referrendum’ issue from his balcony.
Pilate is an intelligent man and seems to know Jesus is innocent of the charges made against him, yet in the end he wants to please those who brought the charges. Maybe he owed them a favour or perhaps he just knew that staying in power always demands sleazy deals with truth the first casualty.
So in the end the choice between the two Jesuses, one Barabbas, the other of Nazareth, was always a done deal and never in doubt. The crowd, for some reason easily stoked with hatred by the religious authorities, cry for the crucifixion of the Nazareth Jesus.
This is a rushed, ill thought through affair and one deeply compromised by the lemming like popularism of ‘The Mob’.
When individuals gather together there is the potential for so much that is good. Yet that potential can so quickly become soured by mis-information, weak leadership and behind the scenes bullying. And when that happens a co-operative community can change so quickly into a negative society.
Yet I want to go on believing in, and working at community.
This week I made a pastoral visit to one of our members at Stoke Mandeville hospital: I walked past the Spinal Injuries Gym and saw patients being put through their paces by committed staff, I enquired at reception as to the whereabouts of our church member and was met by such helpfulness, I went down to the ward and heard nurses chatting to patients offering advice and encouragement. I talked to the lady I’d come to see and she told me how well she had been treated in being given a new hip after falling at home.
Again and again I meet people who are indebted to the NHS and speak with such warmth about the sense of supportive community they experience whilst in hospital.
Yet in Pilate and the mob outside his balcony window we see something very negative in the human condition – the collective bad judgment of an irrational and ill-informed mob. Yet it is a mob that wields power and influence.
By contrast take a walk to your local hospital and nine times out of ten you’ll experience some of the very best expressions of community.
Pilate washes his hands in an attempt to absolve himself of responsibility.
Doctors, nurses and surgeons wash theirs in order to show practical and down to earth compassion.
I think we all know the sort of washing that pleases God.