Pilate was the most powerful man in Israel in the days of Jesus, but he was strangely helpless in carrying out his own desire to let Jesus go free. He said, “I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4) and “nothing deserving of death has been done by him” (verse 15). Twice he said, “I will release him” (verses 16,22). It is strange then how Pilate gives in. When we compare the different gospel records we get a clearer picture. One issue was that Jesus admitted to being a king – and the Jewish leaders declared, “We have no king but Caesar”. Pilate queried Jesus about the allegations of his claim to kingship, but said Jesus, “My kingdom is not of this world (or age)”. So Pilate, the most powerful man in Jerusalem became indifferent to justice and let Jesus be crucified; the biased and prejudiced jealous Jewish leaders got their way.

It has always been a challenge to hold firm to what is true! Most of the Apostles, we gather, in the end met untimely deaths. Peter and Paul did. Let us try to imagine living around 400-500 years ago in England, when ‘christian’ put ‘christian’ to horrible deaths, the situation changing depending which king or queen was on the throne.

Like the voices of the prejudiced religious leaders of that age, today we have the insistent voices of the atheistic and agnostic intellectuals – and they are getting louder! Even some Bible believers are influenced towards accepting human theories of evolution: remember how God challenged Job (Job 38:1-4). We live in an age when intellectuals believe they can know everything there is to know! Today the majority of people accept that evolution is true and there is no God. Religious leaders who believe in both God and evolution are no better than the Jewish leaders in the time of Jesus who blindfolded their minds to the heavenly power of Jesus.

We have all the evidence we need to be sure that Jesus is king, that he rose from the dead and his return will astonish our godless world. Those who do not believe and are not ready for his coming, convinced there is no God, will be overwhelmed and many will perish. Remember Jeremiah 25:32,33.

How certain are we of our beliefs? We read that, at his crucifixion, “all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him … stood at a distance watching these things” (verse 49). Only John and his mother and two faithful women stood by the cross (John 19:19,25,26). Are we standing at a distance? How ready are we for his coming?