One unseen explanation for human behavior is the draw of POWER. It’s a dialect of pride that speaks loudly but in subtle ways that are hard to identity. A motivation for power explains why we get offended, or why we’re insecure. It’s why we don’t talk to our neighbors about Jesus, or why we’re not generous, it’s why we’re afraid of strangers and it’s why we don’t have vulnerable supportive friendships. We’d never say – "I have an unquenchable thirst for power" – but we’ll gossip about people because it makes us look better, or complain when their actions take away our control, or get upset when we’re not properly respected or considered. We’d just never label the struggle as power. And this gets tricky for Christians because we’d all say that JESUS has all of the power – we take our crown off and lay it at the feet of JESUS – who we say is the LORD. – And yet – even in his presence we have trouble escaping from the allure of – what I’ll just crassly label as power.
Today we’re looking at the story of someone whose central theme is power – he is nakedly motivated by a drive for control, by fear of what other people think of him, by influence – and like so many people power blinds him to truth. And in his quest for power, he becomes a villain in the Easter story. And we can learn a lot from him about the dangers of being swayed by power, and we can learn a lot from JESUS about how worshiping Jesus as LORD puts us in a different, more peaceful and secure power economy.
Jesus in Power:
The Story of Pontius Pilate
… I believe … in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried …
THE APOSTLES’ CREED
“You would have no authority over me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Matthew 2:16 (NIV) 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
Luke 13:1 (NIV) Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
Luke 23:1–7 (NIV) Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”
3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”
5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”
6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.
John 19:8–16 (NIV) 8 When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, 9 and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
11 Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.”
12 From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”
13 When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.
“Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.
15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.
16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
John 18:36–37 (NIV) 36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
37 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”
Series outline adapted from Darling, Daniel. The Characters of Easter. Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.