Pilate's questions: Are you the King of the Jews? What have you done that has caused you to be arrested?
Pilate's job is to protect his government and he wants to know if this man Jesus is a threat to peace and stability.
Jesus responds that he is not the kind of king that Pilate has been trained to watch out for. He doesn't have an army, for example.
Pilate asks again: Are you a king? Jesus responds "That's what you say," then adds some remarks that I think would have been unintelligible to Pilate:
For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
And, isn't it hard to understand how truth can prevail without having an army? without being a threat to powerful people? How can we defend ourselves against truth, anyway?
After all, Jesus didn't say that his followers were going to withdraw from the world. He said that it wasn't the world that gave him his authority.Pilate sentenced him to death.
In an essay about Good Friday, Virginia Stem Owens talks about how beautiful the spring trees are in her native Texas. But, one year, she found herself offended by them:
...I was driving to work in College Station on Good Friday through a miasma of dogwood and redbud and not feeling good about it at all. It was a sparkling, resplendent day. Thickets of wild plum thew up their dark arms in dreamy clouds of white. Primroses, tenderly pink and gold, filled up the ditches along the road.Read the entire essay and many others in Epiphanies, edited by Eugene Peterson and Emilie Griffin, published by Baker Books.
I was not pleased. This was not a penitential landscape. Good Friday is not the time for beauty.
I drove along, vaguely offended by the fields of flowers in full cry and the hillsides spangled with Easter white. This is the week, I thought, that the Savior of the world dies. This is the day when all that is good and true goes down to suffer death at the hands of the arrogant, those swollen with the pride of power. And what is the world doing? What is the earth, its own life threatened by those same enemies doing? Did it care? Was it grieving? No. It was shouldering aside the clouds and the husks of its dead self in order to break into life....
All week I had been reading the penitential Psalms and examining my sins. .... But now it was Good Friday. What did you do after you'd confessed all your sins and cleaned out all your closets? I took one last look around the bare cell of my heart for some forgotten fault, at the same time being careful to avoid the danger of manufacturing contrition for its own sake....
But what else was there to do on Good Friday? Already, on this spring morning, as I was descending the hills toward the river, Jesus was beginning his climb to Golgotha. What else was there to do? For the women who followed him, "Looking on afar off" (Mark 15:40 KJV), for those standing beneath the cross, what was there left to do?
Nothing. Quite obviously just nothing....Because Good Friday is the day when you can do nothing. Bewailing and lamenting your manifold sins does not in itself make up for them. Scouring your soul in a frenzy of spring cleaning only sterilizes it; it does not give it life. On Good Friday, finally, we are all mourners and mockers alike.....Good Friday is the day when we can do nothing at all.
Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. His blood and his righteousness.
I passed the intersection at Carlos with its one blinking, yellow light and crossed the bridge over the pipeling that carries the coal slurry to the plant a few miles further on. From there the road bent northward to cross the river.
As I broke out of the ines and into the fertile bottomand, the spring again assaulted me. The land below, emerging from the tendrils of morning fog, was a tangle of luxuriant fertility.
Clouds of pink and white, effulgent enough to inebriate the soberest soul, lured one's live of vision into the darkest trees. Acres of bluebonnets streaked up the red clay banks of the river. The earth, on this Good Friday, cast forth its life, heedless of the sacrifice that sustained it. Its callous, regardless life, sucked from the source it can never repay, never replenish. Continually drawing on the death of its Savior to live. Just like me.