“That’s not how we do it.”
Oh, those words. In church life, these usually accompany a critique of a new way to reach people or a challenge to a method or experiment.
But why do we feel this way? Sometimes, we’re changing the Gospel’s message, which must be defended. Most of the time—the vast majority of the time in my experience—we feel this way because we love our methods more than Jesus.
We’re not the first (and won’t be the last).
A chapter break occurs for us (18 to 19), but the narrative is cohesive. Pilate, the power-hungry, abusive, cowardly Roman politician, knew he needed evidence that Jesus was guilty of breaking Roman law—and blasphemy didn’t count. Jesus admitted to Pilate that He was a King, though not of this world. This would have been a capital offense, but Pilate wasn’t satisfied.
Pilate tried to get the Jewish leaders to take matters into their own hands, but they wanted Jesus killed and only Pilate could do it. Pilate tried to let Jesus go by giving the people an obvious choice: the peaceful, quiet Jesus or the murdering insurrectionist Barabbas. They chose freedom for the latter.
We continue in John 19:1-7
Pride blinded the religious leaders of the Jews to the validity of Jesus’ identity. Sign after sign was given, but they didn’t want to see. They didn’t want to see the truth staring them in the face. They didn’t want to see the reality that they had betrayed the call of God for them.
Instead, their pride drove them to mock Jesus. It drove them to accuse Jesus of being an insurrectionist by claiming to be their King. Remember, in their minds, their King WAS the Messiah. Their King WAS their Savior.
Heartless soldiers slapped the face of the Architect of the Universe. A crown of thorns causing His blood to drench His hair and shoulders spilled from the precious veins of Immanuel—God with Us.
Pilate was probably hoping the beaten and weakened Jesus would be enough to satisfy the bloodlust of the Jewish religious leaders. When Pilate says, “Here is the man!” it’s loaded with sarcasm.
Here is the man you wanted to be punished: crowned with painful thorns, shamed, mocked, covered in dirt, sweat, blood, and a filthy purple robe.
Here is the man…humiliated.
Here is the man…punished as Roman law dictated: beaten for causing trouble with the Jewish people and giving Pilate a headache.
By Roman law, Pilate had no reason to do more (verse 6). The Jewish leaders twisted and abused God’s Law to demand Jesus’ death (verse 7).
The irony: a pagan Roman politician recognized the innocence of Jesus while the priest and religiously educated only wanted Jesus silenced because it cost them power.
These seven verses show how powerfully blinding religious pride can be. The Jewish religious leaders refused to accept what the Lord was doing. It didn’t fit their desires.
He didn’t move in their prescribed way.
His methods weren’t theirs.
His ways weren’t theirs.
His grace was offensive to them.
Does that sound familiar?
If you’ve been in church life for a few years, you’ve probably heard these same things. You’ve heard the religious pride of the status quo. Perhaps you’ve heard the criticism when the Lord reaches people in different ways than the critiquers were reached.
We must be very cautious when we hear these words from our lips. It is this same pride condemning the perfect Son of God to death.
Is it possible that our pride in our religious past might try to kill His Spirit in our congregations?