Summary: This morning our focus is on how Pilate kept trying to slam the door shut but was unable to do so.
A couple weeks ago I stopped at a gas station on my way to make a hospital visit. As usual my mind was focused on a number of things, and I wasn’t paying attention to the howling hurricane whipping through the flat lands of Illinois. As I got out of the car, the wind pulled the door out of my hand and bent the hinges with an ugly metal-on-metal sound. My first response was to ignore the problem so I slammed the door quickly in order to get the Snicker bar that I had stopped for. Unfortunately, the door wouldn’t shut so I used my seat belt to hold the door closed while I went in to the station for my chocolate fix.
When I came out, I was surprised that the situation hadn’t fixed itself on its own so I took matters into my own hands and tried to force the door shut by slamming it repeatedly. With the whirling wind working against me, I decided to just drive to the hospital slowly as I held the door shut with my left hand. This was not easy to do and I almost fell out of the car a few times. When I finally got to the hospital, I decided to try slamming the door shut again. After about five tries, the door shut and stayed closed. I ran into the hospital and when I came out, I did something that reveals my Polish heritage. I thought that since I got it shut once that I would be able to get it to shut again. Wrong. I opened the door and then tried to force it closed through my slamming routine. It didn’t work.
I then drove to my next appointment afraid that I was going to go airborne as the vortex of tempest force winds attempted to suck me into the sky as I gripped the door handle. When I arrived at my destination I got out of the car and proceeded to repeatedly put my weight into the door as I pushed against it in order to get it to latch. At this point, my wife and another church member showed up and told me to try harder, which I gladly did. Another church member parked next to me and expressed concern that my car door was going to fly open and scratch her car. I apologized in advance if that were to happen and told her to make sure she had good insurance because I had to leave my car out in the lot for about an hour. I then called a mechanical, non-Polish friend of mine, and asked if he would come and take a look at it. When I returned there was a bungee cord wrapped around the door.
When I was finally able to take it in for an estimate, the manager told me that this happened to four or five other cars that day and he was able to bend the hinges back and send them all on their way. Apparently I was the only one who persisted in propelling my door shut, and in the process, I pulverized the latch. I had to wait several days before the parts came in, and every time I slid in through the passenger door I was reminded of the war I lost with the tempest…and with my temper.
As we continue to “Experience the Passion” by studying the final 12 hours of the life of Christ, the winds of opposition are picking up gale-force speed. This morning our focus is on how Pilate kept trying to slam the door shut but was unable to do so. After the religious authorities come to the decision to put Jesus to death, the Message paraphrases Matthew 27:2: “Then they tied him up and paraded him to Pilate, the governor.”
The Perplexed Politician
Before we go much further, it’s helpful to understand a little about Pilate’s background. Pilate was governor of the southern half of Palestine and was directly responsible to Rome. His job description contained two primary responsibilities: collect taxes and keep the peace. He had considerable difficulty in that second category because there were constant revolutions and threats, much like the Middle East turmoil today. And Pilate wasn’t a very tactful governor. In fact, he was a ruthless tyrant.
When he first came to power, he marched his armies through the city of Jerusalem. His troops carried the Roman banner, complete with an image of Caesar attached to the poles. The Jewish people objected to this on grounds that it was a graven image and protested for five days. Pilate finally agreed to meet with them in the amphitheater. He then surrounded them with soldiers and threatened to kill them. The Jews were so angry that they bared their necks, daring him to do so. Pilate backed down and the graven images were reluctantly removed.