Mark 15:1-5

As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate. Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” He answered him, “You say so.”

Then the chief priests accused him of many things. Pilate asked him again, “Have you no answer? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed. Mark 15:1-5

I didn’t write last week because Kelley and I are moving to a different house. We are making the shift from renters to homeowners, hopefully the last move we make in our lives. So I took the week off to do some work in the new place and prepare for the movers to come tomorrow. It was exciting. And, for this newly minted 60 year old, it was exhausting.

As we come into the 15th chapter of Mark, Jesus too is making a shift in his ministry. He has spent his life thus far making the love of God real in the lives of people by healing, teaching, and exposing the vast gulf between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of this world. The tradition tells us that the public era of his ministry lasted three years. Common sense tells us that Jesus was always a little different, from the very beginning.

But now he is in Jerusalem. Now he finds himself at the heart of the matter. The City on a Hill. The pulse of the people. John’s gospel says he was there three times, thus the tradition of the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. We should note that, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke – all written long before John – Jesus only goes to Jerusalem one time. One, last, time.

We know why Jesus was such a threat to the religious leaders. He played fast and loose with all of their most cherished religious traditions. He mixed with the wrong people. His followers were a motley crew. He saw that hungry people were fed and sick people were healed and possessed people were set free – none of which the religious leaders could do or hardly even tried to do. When he taught people to pray he invited them to address God as “Daddy.” It was all too much for them. They were losing power, losing control. Jesus needed to go.

So they bound Jesus and handed him over to Pilate.

Pilate’s presence in Jerusalem is a sign of how important Jerusalem was to Rome. The northern two thirds of the country were ruled by the sons of Herod the Great. But Jerusalem, the capital city, was ruled by a Roman official sent specifically to maintain order and control. Pilate answered only to the Emperor. His job was to maintain law and order. “Justice” was what Pilate said justice was. Pilate was amazed that the religious leaders were so threatened by this peasant standing before him. What would Pilate do?

Let us pray: Dear Lord, as we remember you bound and led to Pilate we are mindful of how important justice-seeking is in our lives today. We know you were innocent of sin but we can also appreciate how upsetting your ways of being were to those who lived in fear of losing their power. Yet you stood silent before your accusers. Their words only condemned themselves. May the courage you modeled that day be the courage that helps us seek justice today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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