Monday of the Week of Lent III
Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly. (Matthew 27:11-14)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Genesis 46:1–25; Psalm 60; Matthew 27:1–14
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2B8e5CY
There is much about Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection that causes us, with Pilate, to wonder greatly. How could Jesus go, willingly, to the cross? How can one so faithfully pray, “Thy will be done?” How was it that Judas, a friend and disciple of Jesus, sold him out for thirty pieces of silver? And now, why doesn’t Jesus answer Pilate directly? Jesus never claimed to be “King of the Jews,” although prophecies suggested—and his own followers expected—that at some point he would assume the throne of David in Jerusalem. Perhaps things would have been different had Jesus defended himself. Yet, when the priests and elders accused him, Jesus made no answer, not even to a single charge.
We like things to be reasonable, rational and commonsensical. We want life to be fair, for the innocent to flourish and evil to be punished. This is not how life is, however. This is not how life was for Jesus, and that’s not how we experience real life today. Sometimes evil thrives and seems to win, while innocents suffer. We hear the account of Jesus’ suffering and death and cry out for justice! Somebody, save Jesus from the cruel religious leaders and Pilate! Somebody, turn the tables so that Jesus is released and allowed to go on his way!
It doesn’t end that way, does it? Regardless our protests and wishes, Jesus’ arrest and trial end with His death on the cross—a cruel, bloody, painful death. That’s how the arrest and trial end, but that’s not how the story ends, for God turns the tables.
Finally, Jesus is set free from death, raised again on the third day! It is still Lent, and we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we know that Jesus’ life doesn’t end with Caiaphas or Pilate or the body in the sealed tomb. These are necessary means to a joyful, hopeful end! There would be no resurrection for Jesus, or us, had there been no crucifixion and death. While we are saddened to hear the tragic account of Jesus’ trial, torture and sacrifice, we have the good news! Every day, we rise anew, assured of resurrection, new life and new hope. For this, we live lives of praise and thanksgiving!
Prayer: Lord God, we give you thanks and praise for Jesus, our Savior! In the midst of trial, suffering and death, give us hope and joy because Jesus is risen! Amen.
Lenten Response: Take some time today to give thanks for all those you love who have died in the Lord. Get out their photos, remembering them with joy, because Jesus was raised from death!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.