passing the buck

Luke 23:1-25

Jesus was kicked around like a football from Pilate to Herod to Pilate. He was kicked to Pilate who tried to avoid the situation by kicking him to Herod, who kicked him back to Pilate, who tried to kick him out but didn’t have the courage. Jesus presented the authorities with a problem: he was not a threat to them but the religious leaders were stirring up a crowd that was a threat to public order.

Pilate’s solution (1): let the Jews handle it themselves; send him to the provincial puppet monarch, Herod.

Herod’s solution when Jesus refused to entertain him: ridicule Jesus and send him back to Pilate.

Pilate’s solution (2): ignore the facts; satisfy the crowd’s blood lust by offering to have Jesus flogged and then satisfy his conscience by releasing him.

Jesus presented the crowd with a problem: do they listen to Jesus or take the side of the religious leaders?

Policeman Pushing ProtesterThe crowd’s solution: demand to get rid of Jesus, demand the release of a murderer. The religious leaders would have been delighted that the crowd which only days before had proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah in defiance of them was now baying for his death and supporting their position.

Pilate’s solution (3): give in; release Barabbas and sacrifice Jesus in the name of political expediency and a quiet life.

In the middle of this mayhem and havoc there are glimpses, albeit distorted ones, of what Jesus has come to do. Luke tells us that “that day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies.” It is a hint, a foretaste, of what Jesus will achieve on the cross: reconciliation is breaking out. Even Barabbas’s release is a hint of what is to come: Jesus died in his place.


Start by telling God the Father how you feel about how Jesus was treated.

Jesus died in your place too: tell God how that makes you feel.

Pray for people who are estranged and in need of someone to help them be reconciled. Pray that we will have the courage to speak the truth, even in the face of significant opposition.

Personal Problems

When I think of my God in agony on the cross I blame Pilate – you just can’t wash your hands of that, buddy.

When I look at the smoking gun in my hand and the corpse at my feet I blame the manufacturers, the government and the police.

When I enjoy watching the images of depravity and destruction on my television I blame the censors and those who project such things into my living room.

When I lie and cheat to save my own skin I blame those who forced me into the corner.

When I lie awake at night worrying about the effects of what I have done I blame God for giving me a conscience.

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