Archive for March, 2010


Trust God

Luke 23:7-11. “And when [Pilate] learned that [Jesus] was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. He questioned him at some length, but Jesus* gave him no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate.”

During my time here at Church of the Resurrection I have had the opportunity to work with many different kinds of people in many different kinds of situations. Often crisis – of one kind or another – is the instigator of these conversations. Something bad has happened… a death, loss of a job, a relationship broken apart by infidelity or addiction, or even a persistent sense that things are not what they should be… and people are searching for a way forward. How different it is to speak with one person going through hard times who nevertheless places their trust completely in God in contrast to another person who is still committed to the macho mindset of “pulling myself up by my bootstraps” and toughing it out on their own.

In a way this is exactly the contrast we see between Jesus and Pilate in today’s scripture passage. Both stand facing a critical moment in their lives. Both know that the stakes are extremely high. Both are clear that they are facing a supreme test. And yet the contrast of how each responds to this pivotal moment could not be greater, could it? Jesus stands confidently before both Pilate and Herod, quietly, and firmly fulfilling the role marked out for him by the prophet Isaiah (in Isaiah 53:7). We see in this passage a picture of an unshakable assurance and trust that had to be unnerving to both of his antagonists.

In Pilate we see the exact opposite picture. He squirms, he twists, he tries every possible trick in the book to avoid the weight of this moment. He pronounces Jesus innocent, but the crowd will not hear of it. Hearing that Jesus is from Galilee and then remembering that Herod Antipas – governor of Galilee – just happens to be in Jerusalem at the time, he sends Jesus over to Herod to deal with. Alas for Pilate, Herod toys with Jesus for a while and then sends him back. Pilate has Jesus beaten, thinking this will pacify the crowd, but of course it does not. Pilate’s final ploy is to offer a “prisoner exchange,” a ruthless, cutthroat murderer for Jesus of Nazareth. As we read later, the crowd cries out for Jesus Barrabas to be released, not Jesus the Christ.

When I read this story, I think especially of the engineer who has been out of work now for more than a year. At about the six month mark of his unemployment, after hitting dead-end after dead-end in his job search he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And yet somehow he continued to trust that he was held firmly in God’s hands and that God would stay with him all along the way. He has been frightened and anxious, certainly, but underneath it all he knows that he will be well.

What are you facing today? Maybe the better question is, how are you facing it… like Jesus or like Pilate? Despite the bleakness of the moment that surrounds you, are you able to lean fully on God, committing yourself to walk this path in trust? Or are you doing everything in your power to escape it?

Trust God. Lean into his embrace, completely confident that he will catch and hold you and place your feet back on solid ground (Matthew 7:24-25).

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