“He suffered under Pontius Pilate…”


You can’t do physics without mathematics. You can’t do Christianity without history. The creedal confessions of the church all make mention of a historical figure. Namely, Pontius Pilate. During these days of Holy Week Pilate makes his appearance once again. The story is told of the Roman governor who washed his hands and took the road of political expediency, as any good career-minded Roman would. But he is not remembered in our weekly confession of faith because he walked away from Jesus. He is remembered because he anchors the personal, corporate and cosmic story of Jesus in history, in time.

Looking back at the events of Holy Week is more than a pious exercise. It is a history lesson. The events of that week happened in what we call real time. And there is a dynamism to these events. The activity of God is in motion on every plane. There are the personal stories of Judas, Peter, Caiphas and Pilate. There is the corporate story of disciples, Pharisees, Saducees, Romans and Jews. There is the cosmic story of  God in Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, suffering, crucified and buried. 

The Holy Week story reflects the polyphonic character of the Faith. Taken together, our faith is not only personal, not only corporate, not only cosmic, not only historical. It is all of them together, at once. Holy Week gathers them together and remembers those events when the salvation of God moved in and through time and space until it was lifted up on a Cross, outside Jerusalem, on a Friday afternoon, under the governorship of Pontius Pilate.

Pilate lived in the real world. An inscription with his name was found along the seacoast of Israel. That worn, broken artifact bears witness to the irreducible truth of our faith; God is not separated from our world. Our historical faith is a statement about the God who is not “up there” but Who is enmeshed in the fullness of reality; the personal, corporate, cosmic and, therefore, the historical.  Our historical faith is statement about the forward, promising momentum of life, which is not the same as progress. For the Cross is a statement of the goal of our lives, also. Only the resurrection can draw us forward. And if the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ could be present  there, He is present in all the struggle and confusion of your life, our communities, indeed, the whole cosmic business of life, death, and life beyond death.


“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”