While studying John 19 last night we talked about the role of fear in the crucifixion of Jesus. In John 18:33 we infer the charge against Jesus was insurrection as a competing king, “King of the Jews.” But in 19:7 the Jewish leaders mention Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” and we learn Pilate’s reaction was one of great fear. The Romans believed Caesar was the son of God and divine. Pilate realizes the likelihood of this situation going south has just increased substantially. So Pilate asks Jesus the question would determine his divinity, “Where do you come from?” Pilate probably already knows he is from Nazareth as the is what the plaque attached the cross eventually reads but that is not what Pilate is getting at here. Is Jesus from heaven above or earth below? Where and when does he originate from? This takes us back to the prologue that tells us Jesus has always been and that he came from God.
But anyway, back to fear. The whole crucifixion scene is laced with fear. The Jewish leaders are afraid of losing their positions of honor. Pilate is fearful of the divine but even more so afraid of Rome, Caesar, and losing control of this situation and his position. The disciples are fearful. The only one portrayed as fearless is Jesus Christ. He is still in charge even in control of the time for his spirit to be given up. What an amazing contrast for the crucified one to be confident, courageous, and in control while the ones vying for control of this situation are full of fear.
Fear is a powerful thing. We fear the unknown. We fear losing control of situations. We fear what we don’t understand. All of those seem present in the mind of Pilate and the Jewish leaders (all speculative, of course). We can only be fearful of those things if we are arrogant or prideful enough to think we are big enough to know where everything is headed, have total control of each and every situation, and have the ability to understand everything that comes our way. Life just doesn’t work that way. So we are faced with a choice. Do we side with fear and feebly try to maintain control over things we can’t. Or, do we side with the only one in the room who has no fear, is in total control, knows exactly what is going on and can control the outcome? I think I will opt for the second.