Reading and Prayer – November 19

Reading: John 18: 33-19: 16 (abridged)

Pilate …summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Is that your own idea,” Jesus asked, “or did others talk to you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate replied. “Your own people and chief priests handed you over to me. What is it you have done?” Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, …“You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.” The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar….” Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

Prayer:

Lord, I pray today for a return of character-based leadership.  I pray that You would raise up political leaders of principle and character, not career politicians who will use whatever rhetoric and adopt whatever positions are necessary to win votes.  I pray for church-leaders of character, intelligence, persuasiveness and moral authority who can hold their own in the world and represent Christianity credibly in the public square.  In these days when clergy feel so much the loss of their significance, I pray that they would not let standards slip but maintain the attention to work and rectitude without which the church becomes weak and compromised.  I pray for leaders of character everywhere: among those who set policy for education, among those who set policy for public health, among those who inhabit the once-proud legal profession…. Give parents a profound sense of their responsibility to live before their kids as people of character, people who say what they mean and mean what they say, people who will deny themselves and the selfishness of our age, and put their child’s needs first, people who by word and example will show children that life is a moral quest, and that the stakes are high — nothing less than the life of the eternal soul. 
Lord, in Jesus we have such a lively image of a man of character, a man who knows that he does not live for an earthly audience but for the pleasure of his Heavenly Father, that Audience of One — “my kingdom is not of this world.”  In Jesus we meet someone whose whole raison d’être is to dwell in and point to The Truth.  Pilate doesn’t know what Truth is or doesn’t care.  He is the man who knows the truth of Jesus’ innocence, and yet, because of social pressure, driven by fear and because he holds the power, condemns Jesus to die.  His power is hollow, and his name remembered only because of how he wronged the Better Man.  Lord, give me the character of Jesus, not the weakness of a man like Pilate, so that in my own sphere of life and influence, I can be a “character-based leader” for You.  In His name, AMEN.          

-Rev. Karla Wubbenhorst