In the beginning of Matthew, Chapter 27, we find the thirty pieces of silver being aggressively flung into the Temple by Judas who seemed very aware of the cost of betrayal. He recognized his sin but in fear, left the problem in the hands of other sinners, the high priests and religious leaders who cared nothing about Judas’ problems. Besides, they were powerless to talk with him about guilt, confession and forgiveness for they did not inow about it themselves. All of a sudden those silver coins were deemed “a curse” by everyone who touched them. Even the religious leaders were fearful of that money. The coins were discarded by buying a plot of burial ground set aside for the homeless.
Next Pilot, the Judean governor, was given a chance to use his influence to alter the chain of events that now lay in his lap. His lawful task was to question Jesus and to give his judgment as to His guilt or innocence according to the law of Caesar. He was being manipulated unwittingly do to the unlawful task of giving the crowd what they wanted as they hurled false accusation at Jesus. At first Pilot sought to give that task back to the crowd. He said, “You judge him by your own law.” He wanted nothing to do with this uncomfortable mess. But the people knew they did not have the authority to crucify Jesus and that was their only goal. Fear set in. Then Pilot attempted to push Jesus into defending himself when he said to him, “Are you King of the Jews” and “What did you do?” He even tried to twist the meaning of Jesus’ words. “So, are you a king?” When Jesus questioned Pilot as to what he thought the truth was, Pilot asked that age-old question-“What is truth?” God gave Pilot so many chances to recognize who really stood before him but fear paralyzed him. The Truth was plain and clear. But Pilot remained a fearful man and with each chance that presented itself he became increasingly fearful. Pilot’s goal was for the situation to “go away” and the crowd to be quiet. The whole state of events was getting on his nerves. He felt the intense pressure by the people to condemn an innocent man. He asked the prisoner, Jesus, “Don’t you know I have the authority to pardon you or crucify you?” Jesus explained that the any and only authority given the governor was the authority from heaven.” He tried everything-even making the decision of “not guilty.” He said, “I find no fault in this man.” But the crowd would not hear it. Pilot tried to wiggle out of his situation by giving the crowd the alternative of putting one of their own customs into play-releasing an accused prisoner of their choice during the Passover. While the alternative was being discussed among the crowd, more fear was brought to bear upon the mind and heart of Pilot. Pilot’s wife sent him a note of warning. She had being having nightmares about this Jesus. Trouble…and more trouble. Pilot’s life was getting more complicated by the moment.
Fear took full hold when the plan of an alternative choice backfired. The crowd chose another prisoner to be released under the crafty manipulation of the religious leaders. They were demanding execution by crucifixion of a man who seemed totally innocent to Pilot. They even threatened Pilot, “If you pardon this man (Jesus), you are no friend of Caesar’s.” Now what to do? Pilot caved. Fear made the Governor of Judea cave in to a crowd of angry Jews over whom he ruled!
Before we condemn Pilot too quickly, let’s think about what we would do. Haven’t we all been in a similar circumstance? We have let our fears of what has happened, what is happening and what might happen cower us into attempting to make a choice pleasing to all concerned even though we know it’s wrong. This is especially tempting to those of us who are “crowd pleasers” and “peacemakers.” Peace for the sake of peace is not a good choice and pleasing the crowd is often wrong. In these last days we will probably be faced with the choice of pleasing others or standing up for what is right. We will probably have fears about losing jobs, displeasing family members, or alienating friends. What do we do with those concerns?
Thirty pieces of ill-gotten silver, a crowd’s roar, a wife’s dream, a condemned criminal who calls himself “a king not of this world” and the phrase, “not a friend of Caeser’s” sent this Governor of Judea into a fearful spiral that cost him peace and ultimately salvation. What truth have we not realized? What have we traded in only to find we’ve lost the real treasure? What fears could we put to rest if we come to recognize where the Truth lies? Learn from Pilot’s mistakes. Truth is a person. Truth is Jesus Christ. We can trust Him to lead us, guide us, protect us and save us. We do not have to fear man.