Our Lenten Devotion for Friday, March 25, comes to us from Steadfast Love which features reflections and prayers by Ed Arle and Gil Duchow with inspiration from the works of Henri J.M. Nouwen.
10 “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” 11 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 19:10-11 NIV
Jesus is the first human being who ever lived because he was the most connected to God. Pilate condemned him. Pilate wanted to make him one of the damned. But he could not. Jesus’ death, instead of being the execution of a death sentence, became the way to the full truth, leading to full freedom.
(from Walk with Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen, page 10Henri)
We’re hearing this often these days: “Speaking truth to power.” When you think about it, that can be a risky thing to do. Remember the scene from the musical Oliver, when the orphan boy Oliver got up from the breakfast table, marched up to the cook dishing out mush and said, “More please!”? All eyes were on him as a hush fell over the room. You knew what they were thinking: “How could he do that?” That very question may have filled the minds of those near enough to hear Pilate say to Jesus, “How dare you refuse to speak to me? I have the power.” Little did he know that while he thought he had power over life and death, the truth was Jesus had the power of Almighty God. What’s more, that power is yours and mine in the risen Christ Jesus.
I believe that “Speaking Truth to Power”, is another behavior that Jesus models for us. As with Jesus’ encounter with Pilate, this is often very difficult to do. Even in the midst of the recent violence in Ukraine, some very courageous people in Russia are risking their own safety to publicly tell the aggressors that they will not support the invasion of Ukraine. We can’t be certain of the consequences these faithful protestors have faced, or what others will face, but their courage is powerful.
I do believe that they stand in the light to which Jesus calls all of us. That is to stand up to those who have power and who abuse that power. That light indeed makes us new in Christ. I encourage you to consider moments when you have challenged something that is doing harm to others or witnessed someone else making such a stand. How did that make you feel?
Dear God, having been made new in Christ Jesus, grant me the strength of your Spirit to speak your truth in all situations, and to do it with loving conviction in this broken world. Amen.