The Library Basement
Reading under ground

Holy Week and the failure of politics

Pilate addressed them once again because he wanted to release Jesus. But they kept on shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” A third time he said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I have found him guilty of no crime deserving death. I will therefore flog him and release him.” But they were insistent, demanding with loud shouts that he be crucified. And their shouts prevailed. So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted.

It seems that Pilate was at first trying to be judicious in his treatment of Jesus. After all, he did not find Jesus guilty based on questioning, and even deferred to Herod's jurisdiction. In this he was being idealistic and principled. Yet in our society there would be a pejorative descriptor for personal conviction overriding the will of the public: antidemocratic.

However, due to a politic context of recent insurrection, Pilate was inclined to defer to the will of the people, so as to avoid trouble. In our society this would be the corresponding slur: populist. So in this both of the political ideologies failed. Pilate's principled jurisprudence could not withstand the realpolitik of his situation. And the democratic agenda crucified the Lord of glory.

And that is one of the important lessons I glean from the passion week. Any political system, no matter how ingeniously devised, would have crucified Jesus. This is part of why I am so resistant to political ideology. It seems that without fail, the best of political systems will from time to time nonetheless bear wicked fruit. That's the fallen nature of man. The question should not be, as Pilate asked, "what is truth?" But rather, "what is righteous?"

Category: politics