When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?”
Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (John 19:8-11 NIV)
Pilate’s power is subservient to that of God… he tells Jesus in vs. 10 that he can free him or crucify him. But Jesus – despite all appearances is the one in control. God’s power is the power under which all things are happening.
“Therefore” is interesting. The ones who handed him over did not have power over him rather God did. Yet they took power, they took control of Jesus who was not theirs to control.
Do I take control over Jesus – is “my” Jesus the Jesus of the cross or the Jesus I want to control? The cross breaks all human power. It trumps all human imagining or human manipulation.
I cannot control the Jesus of Calvary. Yet I try. I want Jesus to work for what I want, to lead me where I have determined to go. Not to the cross. Not to Calvary.
Pilate asks Jesus from where he comes… Jesus at this moment is focused on where his mission takes him. But where he comes from – God – is also where he is going.
Pilate cannot stop God’s love and mercy and power. Pilate cannot control the redemptive purposes of God nor God’s servant Jesus. Nor can I. The cross says I cannot.
Nor should I… the cross reminds me that what I imagine God wants for me is, without God’s guidance and revelation, so far off the mark. The cross of Jesus is not what anyone imagines nor dreams of reaching with their lives. But it is Jesus’ destination and Jesus’ place.
Lord Jesus, Bearer of the Cross, Crucified One — just as Pilate had only what power you allowed him, so I must yield to the power of your cross on this Good Friday. May I see in this day anew what it means to take up the cross and follow you, to lose my life rather than to try to save it, to be poured out as you were on this day. May today I live as one who yields to the power of your love and true might as revealed in your death. Amen.