In John 19, Jesus was brought before Pilate and Pilate asked the Lord, “Whence art thou?” Jesus was silent which prompted Pilate to say, “Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I hove power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee?” Jesus then broke his silence and said.”Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that hath delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” (John 19:8-11).

There are several implications of Jesus’ words. First, might does not always make right. Pilate did have the power of life and death over Jesus and that power was given to him by God, but he was still responsible for how he used that power. There are several positions of authority that humans hold wherein their authority is God given, i.e. an officer of the government whether a king or a local mayor, a master or employer, a husband, a father or mother and an elder in the Lord’s church. In each case, the one holding authority will answer to God for how they have used or abused said authority.

Second, Jesus words imply that there is greater and lesser sin. The Lord judged Caiaphas (“he that hath delivered me unto thee”) to have the “greater sin.” The difference in Pilate’s and Caiaphas’ sin might be summed up in the difference in weakness and malevolence. Pilate’s sin was great for his cowardice led him to crucify a man whom he knew to be innocent (vss. 8, 13-16). Caiaphas committed the greater sin for he had been on a quest to kill Jesus. His actions were premeditated and motivated by envy and hate. It is said by some that all sin is the same. While it is true that any sin can cause us to be lost, not all sin is equal in its heinousness. Good common sense tells us that child molestation is not on the same plane as littering.

Finally, the Lord’s words are prophetic. Jesus has judged both Pilate and Caiaphas guilty for putting him to death (vss. 10-11). Yet it is obvious that Pilate has reservations. A mere man would have sensed the hesitance in Pilate and then begged for his life. Jesus, however, knew that He must drink the cup His Father had given Him. Throughout this terrible ordeal, Jesus is calm and in complete control, led as a lamb to the slaughter.

Brent Smith
Trenton, TN

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