6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.
A welcome detail slips their lips. He is not from here. Therefore he is not my problem. He is ‘other’ thus not worth my time. A Galilean. That northern lakeside province from which so much trouble arises. I have met his kind before, mingling their blood with my sacrifices, to send a message (Luke 13:1). But Herod is here for the Passover. That is his region. Best not to get involved. Best to pass this enigmatic king on. Best to let someone else deal with the fallout. What a relief it is to pass off responsibility. How cowardly, but how good it feels not to be on the hook in big decisions. We could be wrong after all. The poison fruit of injustice blossoms under such attitudes. “If it doesn’t affect me, I can’t be bothered.” As if our hearts had only certain jurisdictions for which they can break. Let someone else make the call, let the blood be on their hands. Better to live with our head in the sand than on the block.
Image: “Christ before Pilate” by 16th century Italian painter, Tintoretto.
5But they were insistent and said, ‘He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.’
His crime: teaching. Knowledge the weapon that will bring down the empire. Knowledge that God is not who they say he is. Knowledge of salvation, forgiveness, peace, healing. Sown in the soil of the countryside of Judea for the people living under an oppressive empire and corrupt leaders. With a religious class who were happier not to rock the boat and stay in power, than to give their people the God for whom they hungered. Such knowledge stirs the spirit, which stirs the heart which stirs the feet of the people to follow. They are told they are powerful. They are told they are beloved. They are told they are blessed. They are told they are heirs; heirs to a land far holier than Judea, heirs to a kingdom far greater than Rome. They who will inherit nothing from this life, will inherit everything. How dangerous such belief, such knowledge. How worrisome to have people believe they are worthy. They become hard to control. They become bold. They become children of God, with the power to change the world.
Image: “Christ before Pilate” by late 15th century, anonymous German artist, Master L. Cz.
3Then Pilate asked him, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ He answered, ‘You say so.’ 4Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, ‘I find no basis for an accusation against this man.’
Enough with your noisy accusations. Let him speak. The only kings I know would boldly proclaim their lordship. So let him do so. The kings I know would boast of their right to rule even in the face of death. If he is bent on insurrection he has his stage, let him take up his part and speak. Let him say whether he is a king. The king of these people we have so long kept under our control. The king they say they so eagerly await. You hardly look like a king. Where are your armies? Where are your chariots and your horses? You are no king. That’s what I say. And you’ve done a poor job of convincing your people of it, if you are. They are the ones who brought you to me. So do you consider yourself the king of the Jews? Again, a non-answer answer. Neither a yes, nor a no. Not a lie, not a confession, but a truth. You say so. You decide. You say whether he is or not. To Pilate he is not. But to those who say yes, he is the king of all the world.
Image: “Christ before Pilate” by late 13th/early 14th century Italian painter, Duccio Buoninsegna