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Theodicy and Pilate

by on April 30, 2014

Jesus was born to die. He was born for much more than that, of course, but that for sure. He was the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

How then can those who killed Him be held responsible for their actions? They did kill Him. Peter says, “You have taken Him and by wicked hands have crucified and slain Him.”

So, God wanted Jesus to die but God will hold those responsible for the sin of His death. That is the theodicy. God uses wicked people to accomplish His will but He does not allow the wicked to go unpunished. Habakkuk explains this in his prophecy.

Habakkuk 1:13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?

These are the ways of God. He does what He does because He is who He is. We can not always understand, but we know that His wisdom controls His power and so we trust Him to work all things together for His purpose – even to use ungodly persons and nations to chastise His people and to work out His will.

In the case of Jesus, who is guilty? The religious leaders turned the hearts of the common folk against Jesus. So, the leaders are guilty. They even said, “His blood be on us and on our children.” The common folk are guilty also. They cried out, ”Crucify Him.” Pilate is guilty. Even though he claimed innocence and washed his hands; he is guilty.

God does not force people to do what they do. There is no conscious coercion. They have free will. They make choices. They are responsible for the choices they make. They are responsible for their actions. The following verses indicate the human dimension in Jesus’ death.

Acts 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
Acts 13:28 And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.

Jesus said, No one takes my life from me. I lay it down of myself. He bowed His head and gave up His spirit to go back to His Father in Heaven.” The following verses indicate the divine dimension in Jesus’ death.

John 10:17-18 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
Lu 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.

So, Jesus death had two components. He was killed by human beings and/but He willingly, consciously gave up His life of His own choice and of the will of the Father.

Hence, the theodicy in the life and death of Jesus. God’s will was accomplished by the deeds of wicked men. These men are also held responsible for their actions. Pilate was chief among the guilty persons.

What could Pilate have done? He could have demanded Jesus be released. That would not have accomplished the plan of God.

What else could Pilate have done? He could have stood with Jesus in His innocence. In which case, Pilate would likely have died with Jesus at the hands of a wrathful mob of religious leaders and the crowd they influenced.

Had Pilate done that, his name would have a different place in time and in eternity. Standing with the innocent instead of washing his hands to symbolize his innocence would have placed him in the company of the martyrs of all time and assured him of a place in Heaven. If a repentant thief could be welcomed into Paradise….

What about you? Will you stand with the innocent today or will you be influenced by leaders who are bent on control – bent on their own way? Will you stand with Jesus and the saints of all time as they (and you) are killed? The only way to really know Him is to know the fellowship of His suffering and the power of His resurrection.

God is using you today – either to bless or to harm Him and His people.
Will you die on a repentant cross or
Will you stand aloof, and wield your power, and save your life like Pilate?
Which will it be for you?
It is your choice.

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