Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday--Pilate's Decision

Today's excerpt from my novella.
“So are you the King of the Jews?” Pilate said.

“That is why I am here,” Jesus finally said.

“They say you have been stirring up trouble all over Galilee. They say you healed one of the beggars over near the Pool of Bethesda. Is that true?”

Jesus did not say anything.

“You know what I think?” Pilate continued. “I think they’re jealous. I hear the people love you. The people don’t love them. Everyone knows that the money changers get rich off the people who come here to sacrifice.”

Pilate paused. “But that’s just the way the world works. The big fish eat the little fish.”

There was the smallest flicker of the Spirit in Pilate. This was his moment. At some point in every human’s life, the Spirit gives an opportunity for everyone to move toward God. For a moment Pilate felt the smallest tug of the Holy Spirit.

“Let’s see if the people love you enough to save you.”

It was customary at Passover for Pilate to release someone from his jail back to the people. He had a genuine insurrectionist in his jail, a violent man named Barabbas. So at the second hour, eight o’clock in the morning, Pilate presented Jesus and Barabbas to a crowd that had gathered outside Herod’s palace, where Pilate stayed when he was in town. Pilate genuinely thought they would free Jesus.

“Who do you want me to release?” he shouted. “Barabbas, who beat up a Passover visitor here from Egypt this week? Or do you want Jesus, who turned over some tables in the Temple this week?”

Jesus’ mother and some of his followers were in the crowd. They were distraught on the deepest of levels. Others were in hiding.

They thought the crowds would cry out for Jesus, but the priests and elders had planted their servants in the crowd. Much to the disciples’ surprise, people all over the crowd started shouting, “Crucify him!”

Then there were those in town who were bitter because they had hoped Jesus might lead an insurrection. They hoped he would overthrow the Romans. To them he was an embarrassment, a disgrace. They were angry at him because they felt betrayed. He made them feel once again like losers before the Romans.

“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the crowd shouted. Mary and Peter and Lazarus and Mary Magdalene and James and John and the others looked around in horror. What was happening? How could this be happening? Jesus was the Messiah!

Pilate was also surprised. The light of the Spirit flickered just one more time, more brightly than ever before. And then the light in Pilate went out for good. He had made his choice. He would reject the Holy Spirit.

“Then crucify him we will.”

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