December 8th – Three Strikes and You’re Out

Rome ruled the world! It was a vast, ruthless machine, yet totally paranoid, suspecting insurrection and revolt in every part of its world-wide rule.So afraid of any challenge to its politically iron grip, that it forbade all gatherings of people that may be plotting against the State. They would not permit even local fire brigades lest such organisations should turn politically anti-Rome.
Herod’s three sons, amongst whom he had divided his kingdom in his will, were not as gifted politicians as their father, and Rome had to intervene. They appointed a Procurator over the second-class province, Judea, to administer it and gather the taxes If he stepped out of line the native leaders of the Province had a right to report the Procurator, or even a higher-ranked Governor, to Rome.
The Judean Province was always a boiling cauldron of political unrest and required very sensitive handling. The Procurator from A.D.26 to A.D.35, was a certain Pontius Pilate. By the time he faced Jesus he had already made three serious errors, for which Rome held him responsible.
The first one was when he first rode into Jerusalem from his capital H.Q. of Caesarea. He was flanked by a large detachment of crack Roman guards bearing their standards on the top of each of which was a bust of Caesar. To the Jews, graven images! And Pilate wouldn’t back down. Neither would the Jews. They followed him to Caesarea, and there, when Pilate said he would kill them if they didn’t stop their objections, they simply said “Then kill us!”, and dared the soldiers to strike them down. Pilate backed down.
The second gaffe was when Pilate was wise enough to improve Jerusalem’s inadequate water supply, but to pay for it he raided the fabulously rich Temple treasury, which was under the Jewish Law of Korban – for God’s sacred use only.
Riots broke out, Pilate’s strong arm men controlled the mob with excessive force; people died and Pilate was again in politically boiling water.
The third incident was worse. King Herod’s old shields represented obeisance to Rome’s Emperor, so Pilate had the name “Tiberius Caesar” inscribed on them: a favour-currying diplomatic move, surely? No! Tiberius was called a god, and now his name was in the Holy City. Pilate was adamant. The scandalised Jews reported it to Rome, and Rome ordered Pilate to remove them.
Three strikes, and your out! But no, in the year 35 A.D. Pilate crushed a rebellion in Samaria very savagely; then, next on the agenda, the Jews brought before him a prisoner who claimed to be a king! “If you excuse this man, you are no friend of Caesar” they jibed.
The blackmail was complete. Pilate was in their power.To oppose the Jews and justly set Jesus free, would have been correct, but political suicide. The trap shut, and Pilate signed the death warrant. No matter how often he washed his hands, the red ink was indelible.
Read John Chapters 18 and 19 today. This is a snatch of the story: Chapter 19 v. 4 & 15: Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
A Prayer: Deliver me Oh Lord from the imprisoning power of sins past, to set me free to do what is right.

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Thought 4 The Day

The instant you are conscious of being truly humble, it all turns into pride.

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