The Conceit Of Man


Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:10-11)

The Conceit Of Man

It was a remarkable scene played out on the stage of human history that would never be repeated again. A weak despot ruling in the back-waters of the Roman Empire demanding answers from a common citizen born to poverty and demanding the itinerant preacher answer his questions or face the penalty of death. Regaled in his royal splendor as procurator of Judea, Pilate drilled Jesus with questions and was surprised at the manner Jesus dismissed his questions. There was no basis for the charges brought by the rabble crowd of Jews who demanded Pilate crucify Jesus. He would seek to have him released but the pressure of the crowd and threats of reports being sent to Rome brought great fear to the cowardly ruler. Pilate pressed Jesus to tell him where He was from and Jesus refused to answer. This confused Pilate as he reminded the man from Nazareth that as procurator of Judea the power to crucify and the power to pardon was in his hand. He had no doubt sent many men to their deaths. Pronouncing judgment on Jesus would be of little concern to Pilate. The irony of the answer of Pilate is eternal: he told Jesus the power to crucify Him and the power to release Him was in his hands. Imagine the surprise when Jesus looked Pilate in the eyes and answered that he had no power but the power given to him from above. What an incredible answer and what a powerful statement by Jesus. The Lord was facing a certain death that He knew was the will of His Father. He could have called twelve legions of angels to rescue Him in the blink of an eye but He left that power in the hands of His Father. What Pilate did not realize and what makes the scene of Jesus standing before him paradoxical to its core was a man saying to the Son of God that he had power to do with Jesus whatever he wished. How far removed from truth was this statement. Jesus did not answer in a haughty or prideful manner. It was the simple truth the only reason the Son of God stood before this Roman officer and allowed him to treat Him in the manner that had been done and what would be done was because the Creator, Lord, Master and God of all creation allowed it to happen.

Pilate, like so many people, live in the belief they have the power to do whatever they wish in any manner they may choose. The world is filled with men and women who go through life with no regard to others accepting a false notion of self-worth, pride and arrogance. Little do they know they sit in the same place as Pilate shouting to the world they have the power to give life and take life and the words of Jesus echo through the centuries reminding them of the One who is really in charge. How sad and tragic that man still shakes a fist in the face of God as if he is a god exercising power over life. The irony of the scene is likened to an ant shaking his fist (if he has one) in the face of a man. How ridiculous if one can imagine. Daniel reminded Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans that God held his breath in His hand as He holds the breath of all men in the palm of His hand (with room to spare). God is so great and man is so small and yet man believes he has the power to give life and take life. Pilate did release Jesus to be crucified and while he may have retired to his quarters satisfied he exercised his power over Jesus it would have become abundantly clear years later when Pilate died that he learned the meaning of the Galilean who stood before him that fateful day. The power of God is greater than the power of man – even a Roman ruler.

God has made every provision necessary for the happiness of man. The world is teeming with the physical blessings of a loving Creator that will care for the wants of man. Through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son, the Father has given man the answers to his eternal needs and the promise of greater happiness beyond life. Man did not create the world and he does not sustain the world. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and by His word the world is held together reserved for fire until the day of judgment. The habitation of man is limited to space, time and the world defined by God and nothing man can do will change that. Man cannot create life and he cannot stop death. Everything cries out to the immortal words of Jesus that all power comes from above. Kicking against the goad will only bring harm to the one kicking. Pilate thought he had power but he did not. One of life’s greatest challenges is to believe the mistaken idea that we can do anything we want with our lives and it will not matter. That belief will last only until we die and then it will be too late to realize who has the greater power. Live your life to the fullest degree doing whatever you want to do however you want to do it and try to convince yourself nothing matters but what you demand out of life. Your life will be a miserable failure and your eternity an endless sadness. Jesus is the only way, the only truth and the only life and only through Him can you find happiness. Accept His power and authority and let His word guide your life. You will find joy in this life and when death comes (and it will) you can face your end as a new beginning. God has all the power. Submit to that power.

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