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April 06, 2007

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Leon Shearer

I think you are correct in addressing these three issues; however I would say that fear is a major and systemic factor in much of what we see in weak-spined church leadership. It is so often carefully camouflaged in nice theological rationalization, but I think it is deeply ingrained and contributed to by many factors; personal, social, religious and so forth. On our recent three months in Asian countries we encountered the same thing. A notable exception was when we were in Indonesia. We were humbled and blessed by the strength, courage, forthrightness, faith and love in the leaders we were with.

Henriet Schapelhouman

Thanks Leon for that insight. How do you think fear played out in Pilate's decision?

Leon Shearer

Henriet, I should have known you would not let me slide with my comment, but the jetlag is still with me, so I will try to elaborate a bit more.
I think we need to remember the expectations we have in our Christian points of view cannot always be placed on those who are not Christians. I believe that through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit there is the power to do much more than is normally possible through the power of our human spirit. When I look at Pilate through this lens it gives me compassion for his dilemma. Having said that I still believe there were some underlying fears which motivated him to ignore his own conscience and yield to the crowds demands. We can read in all four gospel accounts of his clear conviction and understanding that Jesus had been set up by the religious leaders and that they were manipulating the situation to evoke Roman sympathy and justice. He knew this and could have stuck to the fact "I find no evil in him" and freed him. We could surmise where this might have led, for his respect by the many Jesus had helped or the risk of criticism by those opposed to Jesus, or something else.
This doesn't help us though so if we look back to scripture we see three statements which, in my mind, pushed a hidden element of fear and caused him to deny what he strongly believed, hence his attempt to wash his hands of innocent blood and consider his wife's warning.
1) "And so Pilate, willing to content the people…" Mk 15:15
2) "… but he delivered Jesus to their will" Lu 23:25
3) " If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend…" Jo 12:12
We can see that he was a "crowd pleaser" and anyone who yields to this, displays the weak character you spoke about and in this case it is a lack of courage in a his character.
He did not display a shallow conviction, but he lacked the courage to support his conviction. Where courage is lacking to do what one knows is the right thing to do then obviously some other controlling element is present which supersedes the element of courage. I see this as a type of fear.
Bless you,

Henriet Schapelhouman

Hi Leon, Thanks for that insightful reply. I agree with you. Pilate knew that if he allowed a riot his career would be over. Rome had already put him on notice because of is cruelty. So fear ruled. However, interestingly enough his career was over anyway--after this bad decision. Thanks for weighing in and pointing out that fear was more the motive than weak convictions! Henriet

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