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Daily Devotion for April 26, 2014

<i>Christ Before Pilate (detail)</i> by Duccio, ca. 1311.
Christ Before Pilate (detail) by Duccio, ca. 1311.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Saturday is Oldies Day, and we look back today to a more sentimental time, with the great George Younce singing Child of the King.

Prayer for the Day

Holy God, you have given me another day. Bring your Holy Spirit into my mind and my life, so that I may walk this day in your presence. Let me feel your presence throughout the day, remembering always that you sent your Spirit that you might be a living force in all I see and all I do. When I feel temptation or begin to stray, show me your path. Correct me, comfort me, let me live your will; that I may be happy in this life and blessed in the life to come. This I pray in the name of Christ, my Lord.



[The Holy Spirit as a living force.]

Prayer for Freedom from Fear

O  Lord, I beseech you to deliver me, and all of your children, from the fear of the unknown future; from fear of failure; from fear of poverty; from fear of bereavement; from fear of loneliness; from fear of sickness and pain; from fear of age; from fear of death. Help us, O Father, by your grace to love and fear only you, and fill our hearts with cheerful courage and loving trust in you; through our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.



And now, as a little child, let me abide in you all this day, oh Christ, so that when you appear I may have confidence and not shrink from you in shame at your coming. For I know that you are righteous, and I am sure that I will be made righteous only by my life in you.


Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.

<i>Christ Before Pilate </i> by Duccio, ca. 1311.
Christ Before Pilate by Duccio, ca. 1311. The full work, from which the detail at the top of the page is taken.

Proverbs 28:16-17 (NKJV)

A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor,
But he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.

A man burdened with bloodshed will flee into a pit;
Let no one help him.

Blue Latin Cross

Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14 (ESV)

Jesus Delivered to Pilate

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor. . . .

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 gave 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 was greatly amazed.

Notes on the Scripture

Pontius Pilate is one of the most interesting people in the Bible, for we rarely see a Biblical character drawn in shades of grey. Christianity is a very black-and-white, dichotomous religion; we are saved, or we are not. We go to heaven or we go to hell.

There are moral ambiguities — you almost cannot have two rules (much less hundreds) without being able to think up a situation where they conflict and create a dilemma — but in Christianity, morality is subordinate to faith and flows from it. There is only one rule, which might be stated as “faith in Christ”, from which all other precepts flow:

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:4-6, KJV)

In Christian terms, Pilate is a lost soul. When Christ ultimately separates the sheep from the goats (his terminology - see Matthew 25:32), Pilate will be among the goats.

Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars

But in human terms, Pilate shows a lot more integrity than one would expect. He really does not want to crucify Jesus, and as we will see, tries several times to prevent it. What he does not do, however, is simply say “no”, which was within his power. He ultimately gives in to the Sanhedrin as a matter of political expediency; he would rather see an innocent man crucified than have a riot or stir up enmity in the Sanhedrin, for his Roman masters expect him to keep the peace in Judea.

Even so, Pilate's extreme reluctance is interesting. Herod, and most Romans, would have simply crucified Jesus without a second thought.

Jesus, in Aramaic idiom, actually admits that he is “King of the Jews”. We have seen this idiom, “you have said so”, twice in Matthew 26, once to Judas and once to Caiphas. It is unclear whether Pilate understands this to be an affirmative answer, but either way, he correctly grasps that Jesus is not a Zealot or a political revolutionary. The very fact that Jesus is being prosecuted by Sadducees and Pharisees implies that he is not an enemy of Rome.

Then Jesus stays silent in the face of all the testimony against him. Pilate is “amazed”. Does this man not care if he dies? How can a man possibly be so self-possessed as to simply say nothing? If he was willing to die for some cause, one would expect him at least to make a speech.

Pilate senses something special about Jesus; this ragged carpenter from Nazareth is, unbelievably, noble in the face of death (something a Roman would admire). Unfortunately, he cannot take the saving step of hearing Christ's message in his heart (unlike some Romans to come, such as Cornelius in Acts 10).

endless knot

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Luke 9:49: John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”

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