Daily Devotion 02 April 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Luke 23: 13-14, 18, 20-25 ‘Pilate Gives in to the Crowds’

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, ‘You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges.  18 Then they all shouted out together, ‘Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!’  20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21 but they kept shouting, ‘Crucify, crucify him!’ 22 A third time he said to them, ‘Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.’ 23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted … 25 and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

We sometimes hear that there can be ‘no forgiveness without repentance’. Does that apply to all those who were responsible for Christ’s death? Think of who was responsible: Pilate signed the death warrant, subsequently washing his hands to convince himself that act absolved him of any wrongdoing. Pilate apparently convinced of Jesus’ innocence, but probably fearful of losing his position of governor at that time if he acquitted him. Was it fear for his reputation and standing that allowed him to go against his instincts?

Religious leaders often get a bad press in the Gospels, usually bearing the brunt of public opinion – finding them guilty of hounding our Lord. Certainly, Jesus was a thorn in their side, undermining their hold on the populace. What about the crowds themselves who called for his crucifixion? What about the disciples, Jesus’ friends, who stood by helplessly under the weight of circumstances beyond their control? All of them must surely bear some responsibility, and however much we think that we would have raised our voice against such injustice – would we?

None of these involved at the time appear to be repentant, yet Jesus asked forgiveness for them: ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ (Luke 23:34). Whatever their motives, or weaknesses, he still loved them, caring more for their welfare than his own. We can only bow in awe and wonder, penitents before him and thank him for such love and sacrifice, knowing that we are in company with those who, for whatever reason, stood aside as he was crucified. “Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God should die for me?”

Prayer:

Father, we confess our weaknesses, our lack of courage in times of testing;
forgive all that we do which denies you, bringing disrepute on your church.
Thank you for the reassurance that you are always waiting with open arms to welcome those who turn to you.
Loving God we praise you for all your generous love which forgives and restores us as your own beloved children.
Grant us grace to go forward in the power of your Spirit, better witnesses for Jesus who gave his life for us all.
We make our prayers, trusting in your unfailing mercy. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Hazel Blake.
Image freely available online.

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