Blessed…To Do Nothing is Still Doing Something

24 Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was starting. So he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I’m innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It’s your problem.”

25 All the people replied, “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”26 Then he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified (Matthew 27:24-26, Common English Bible).

Pilate had it wrong. He couldn’t have been more wrong. He didn’t want to execute Jesus. His wife told him not to do it. But, on the other hand, he had the leaders of the Jewish Council insisting that Jesus needed to die and threatening him with a bad report to the Emperor. To make matters even worse these leaders, the priests were stirring up the crowd to the point they were almost at the point of having a riot. It wasn’t a good situation.

In yesterday’s lesson, Pilate makes a move in this little chess game. For all practical purposes, it was Pilate’s last real move of the day. Tradition had him release one prisoner. He gambled. It was a calculated risk, but a risk none the less. It was also a gamble he lost. Normally he gave the Jews their choice of any prisoner. As a part of his gamble, Pilate took a notorious prisoner, an insurrectionist, a murder, a thief  and a con man. Pilate paired this man Barabbas with Jesus. Pilate reasoned there was no way the Jews would let Barabbas, a man they feared, go just so they could execute Jesus who, may have annoyed the leaders, he had really done nothing wrong. Pilate played his hand and the leaders called his bluff.

That’s where we begin today. Pilate has had enough of all this. Jesus meant nothing to him, so quite literally, Pilate washed his hands of the Jesus matter. He chose to do nothing. He released Barabbas and turned Jesus over to be crucified.

“I have nothing to do with this man,” Pilate said (my paraphrase), “Let his blood be on your hands. It isn’t on mine.” With that, Pilate had finished his mental exercise of saving Jesus.

When the end of this debate came, Pilate didn’t see himself as part of the problem. He didn’t see himself as having any further responsibility. He was just looking for the fastest way possible to restore order.

For Pilate, really for the Romans of the period, life was cheap. Jesus really meant nothing to him.  If Jesus was keeping the Jews stirred up, it wasn’t in Pilate’s best interest to ignore the situation. He couldn’t just let things remain in turmoil. The fastest, most expedient means was to send Jesus to the cross.

Of course, Pilate wouldn’t see it this way. He believed that by washing his hands of the situation and putting it back on the Jews would absolve him of any guilt. That is a line of thought that is shortsighted.

In truth, just as we are responsible for the death of Jesus due to our own sin, the same was true of Pilate. By not saving a man he believed to innocent, he rejects Christ and allows an innocent man to die. Pilate’s decision is arguably the worst decision in history. When Pilate decided not to decided not to decide, he actually decided.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Thanksgiving,

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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