Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
John 19:10-11 (CSB): “So Pilate said to him, ‘Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you and the authority to crucify you?’ ‘You would have no authority over me at all,’ Jesus answered him, ‘if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.’”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
A few years ago, I read this text again for the very first time. By that, I mean that I read it for the umpteenth time but saw something new and profound in it. Let me share it with you…
If you look at John 19:10, you will see that Pilate was essentially saying, “Come one, Jesus. Cooperate with me, man. I can get you out of this mess but you’ve got to work with me.”
If I was in Jesus’ shoes, a mob was outside calling for my life, and I was standing in the presence of a powerful leader, I would definitely cooperate. Why? Because I would be under the impression that he is correct. He could help me out of the mess. In fact, I would not only cooperate … I might even plead for his help.
But not Jesus.
What Jesus said next, in John 19:11, is profound and is counter-intuitive. Instead of agreeing that Pilate could get him out of the mess, Jesus said:
John 19:11 “‘You would have no authority over me at all,’ Jesus answered him, ‘if it hadn’t been given you from above…’”
Essentially, Jesus said: “Pilate, you think you are in control of things. Well, you are wrong. You can’t do anything unless my Father in Heaven wills it. Whatever you choose to do only furthers the ultimate will that my Father is accomplishing.”
So, Jesus wasn’t running to Pilate for help. He didn’t fall down on His knees and plead for this governmental leader to protect Him. When He looked at Pilate, he saw a man who had power but only to do those things that were within the perfect or permissive will of the Father.
Yet, one more thing: when we see how much power God holds over Pilate, we may come to the erroneous conclusion that Pilate was simply a pawn on God’s chessboard. We might be tempted to think that Pilate had no free will of his own.
If we come to that conclusion, we would be wrong. All we need to do is read the next thing that Jesus said…
John 19:11 “‘You would have no authority over me at all,’ Jesus answered him, ‘if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.‘” (emphasis mine)
Jesus acknowledged God’s ultimate authority over the events and people in this narrative. Anything they did only furthered God’s plan.
Yet, Jesus also made it clear that this did not absolve the characters in this true-life story of their own choices. The one (Judas) who handed him over had committed a greater sin and thus would be punished greater. If Judas was simply a pawn on God’s chessboard and had no free will of his own, God would have been unjust to point out his sin.
But, we believe that God is fully sovereign and mankind has a free will. God is fully in control and mankind still has the ability to do as he pleases within his range of options.
Sure, Pilate could do as he pleased but God’s will was simultaneously being accomplished.
Bringing it down to our real-life experiences, people are capable of hurting us with their words or actions (and we might also hurt them). But, let us never, ever come to think that our help is solely, or primarily, to be found in others. Ultimately, our help and protection comes from the Lord.
So, trust Him. Spend time taking your cares to Him. Ask Him to intercede but ultimately submit yourself to His will.
And don’t fear people. They “would have no authority over (you) at all if it hadn’t been given (them) from above.”