John 19:1-6: What fear can do.
“Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. 2 The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe 3 and went up to him again and again, saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ And they slapped him in the face.4 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’ 5 When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’6 As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify! Crucify!’But Pilate answered, ‘You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.’ NIV
It is obvious that Pontius Pilate was afraid (8), and fear can be a dangerous thing.
”Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe” (Proverbs 29:25).
Out of fear, Pilate went along with the crowd (18:40 – 19:1). He was swayed by the loudest voices (12, 13). As powerfully as the voice of conscience spoke to him, the voices in the angry mob registered more deeply. He was scared. He sought to save his life (12) – to protect what he had: position, influence, privilege etc. But He lost it. He heard the implicit threat in their shouted words, and he backed off. He wanted to save Jesus; but he wanted his life in the governor’s palace even more.
Out of fear, Pilate did not live up to his deepest, truest convictions. He knew that Jesus was innocent (4,6). He was without excuse. The Lord should not have been ”flogged” (1), let alone crucified. Pilate knew something important and true about Jesus, but He did not act according to that knowledge. There was a credibility gap between what his head and heart most assuredly knew and where his feet went. Does this remind you of anyone. I heard Rick Warren highlight a problem we have in the evangelical world, namely that we know far more than we do.
I was thinking also that there is a form of ‘worship’, where we repeatedly gather and use the right words, and we try to dress Jesus in ”purple” robes of praise, but it will be like a slap in the face to Him if our hearts are not right. From such outward forms, without real power, may God the Holy Spirit deliver us.