Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor's headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor's headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.
So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. John 18:28-38
I was reading an article in the New York Times recently that focused on how a defendant should dressing when on trial. It was focused on women and how important it is to dress carefully. What women wore really influenced how the jury saw her. If she was dress to high fashion, she would be considered uppity and therefore disliked and if she dressed poorly she would be considered going for sympathy and considered manipulative. They talked about several famous trials and the mistakes certain women had made. I was horrified to think that a jury would judge, pre-judge really, the innocence of a person based on their couture. The writer was adamant that without a fashion consultant a woman could lose her freedom, even if innocent. There really are fashion police?
Jesus was on trial for his life, grabbed from his prayer time and the company of his friends. He had no judge, nor jury, but Pilate. Pilate found him innocent but he had already been judged. He was a threat to society, a menace and a trouble maker. How dare he go around healing people and sharing God's love and forgiveness? He had upset the sensitive balance of power and for that he had to die. Despite our best intentions, we judge people for all the wrong reasons, and we find people wanting and rejected who are simply different. Despite our human frailties and lack, our ever changing hero worship and shallowness, God stands firm, loving us completely despite ourselves. Jesus was willing to go to the cross for the likes of us.
Today I ask God to help me see beyond the outward adornments and see the beloved in each person. If God is willing to sacrifice so much, can't I take the time to see good and possibility in all my neighbors? May we all stand firm with God, who is constant in love and forgiveness. May we see the face of Christ in everyone we encounter today, and leave judgment and condemnation to God alone.