I was reading Matthew for a class. Just reading through the book in a printout that has no chapters, no verse numbers, just the text.
That morning I had started with the disciples running away after Jesus was arrested. In a couple of paragraphs I read this sentence about Pilate: “For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.”
Matthew had just described Pilate’s interview with Jesus. He described the offer that Pilate made to the Jewish leaders: Barabbas or Jesus. And then Matthew gave us a glimpse into Pilate’s understanding of the motives for the arrest of Jesus. It wasn’t because he was actually breaking rules. The search for false witnesses to find something he’d done wrong shows that. Instead, the work of Jesus was undermining the power and status and stability of the religious structure.
Pilate apparently knew something about power motives. He was juggling his position and the position of Rome in Jerusalem. He was looking for ways to keep the peace, and Jesus wasn’t worth saving to disturb that position.
And Matthew knew something about power as well. In his role as a tax collector, he would have had to leverage the power of Rome. And he would have been aware of motives other than altruism.
I’m curious about whether Jesus gets handed over again in our lives. Not that he’s crucified again. But I’m wondering whether our worry about our status means that we leave him on a cross rather than taking up our own. We cling to our reputations of whatever sort rather than following Jesus to the edges, to the people who feel like they have no reputation to risk, no value in living, no hope.
And I wonder, a little, whether I end up like Pilate, acutely aware of the motives of others, not working to confess my own.