It can be so easy to read or hear about a situation and think I wouldn't have done that! It's easy because we are reading or hearing about it after it has happened. We are not the ones in the moment having to make decisions under pressure. We rarely know the full story, yet we judge.
This morning I was reading Matthew 27:11-26, the story where Jesus stood before Pilate. Here is the story ...
Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”
“You have said so,” Jesus replied.
When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.
Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.
While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him."
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.
“Barabbas,” they answered.
What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.
They all answered, “Crucify him!”
“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”
All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”
Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Now I am no Bible scholar, but as I read this story I thought about the pressure Pilate would have been under in this situation. Pilate knew the outcome that was expected of him from the religious leaders.
(Now, Pilate was fully aware that the religious leaders had handed Jesus over to him because of their bitter jealousy). Matthew 27:18 TPT
He watched them persuade the crowd to choose to free Barabbas.
But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. Matthew 27:20 AMP
He even had his wife giving him advice.
Just then, as Pilate was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him this message: “Leave that innocent man alone. I suffered through a terrible nightmare about him last night.” Matthew 27:19 NLT
But he also knew in his heart that Jesus was innocent, and he didn't want to take responsibility for Jesus' death.
When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere and that a riot was imminent, he took a basin of water and washed his hands in full sight of the crowd, saying, “I’m washing my hands of responsibility for this man’s death. From now on, it’s in your hands. You’re judge and jury.” Matthew 27:24 The Message
I guess you could say that Pilate abdicated his responsibilities to the crowd. Other than Pilates thought a riot was imminent, we don't know what other thoughts he was having at this time. Clearly he wasn't listening to his wife (joke!).
And this it the point of today's post, to remind each of us, including me, that we don't know the full story behind people's decisions, and it is not our place to judge them.
God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4:12 NLT
Also keeping in mind that Jesus came to so that none may perish ...
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NLT
It is not our job to judge, but it is our responsibility to pray for others including our brothers and sisters in Christ ...
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Ephesians 6:18 NIV
... our political leaders ....
Most of all, I’m writing to encourage you to pray with gratitude to God. Pray for all men with all forms of prayers and requests as you intercede with intense passion. And pray for every political leader and representative, so that we would be able to live tranquil, undisturbed lives, as we worship the awe-inspiring God with pure hearts. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 TPT
... and those who persecute us.
But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44 NKJV
Just as Jesus prays for us.
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Romans 8:34 NIV
So today, let's take hold of those thoughts that want to judge others and instead say to ourselves, "No, I am not going down the judging path. Instead I am choosing to pray for that person today, Jesus bless them and draw them to Yourself."
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