Pilate Error

“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the world.”

On Good Friday our office is always silent because of something that happened under imperial Rome. A Jew was brought before the Roman governor of Judaea, accused of disturbing the peace. Upon looking into the matter, the governor concluded that the accusers erred. Hadn't the accused admitted in public that he was the King of the Jews?

But, so what? The Roman, Pontius Pilate, saw nothing in what Jesus was saying that posed a threat to the empire, or even to Roman rule in Judaea.

“I find no fault in him at all,” he concluded.

That wasn't good enough for the local authorities. Jesus may have been no menace to Rome, but he was a troublemaker in the Levant. The elders wanted to get rid of him. The mob wanted his blood.

“Crucify him! Crucify him!” they yelled.

So be it, said Pilate, but the blood won't be on my hands. “Take ye him and crucify him, for I find no fault in him.”

We began our book with this story, and we come back to it at the end. It is a history that has been retold every year for the last two millennia, and like any history, we have no way of knowing what part of it is humbug and what part is true. Still, like the jesting Pilate—whom Francis Bacon invented—when the question is posed, we don't wait for an answer. Whether history or not, the story itself is a masterpiece.

We pay attention to it, as we pay attention to all masterpieces—to all art, tradition, ...

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